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Sobell granddaughter: ‘Axe trampoline park’

Gaie Scouller backs calls to scrap controversial ‘recreation attraction’ trampoline park at the leisure centre that her grandfather funded

25 August, 2017 — By Emily Finch

Gaie Scouller: ‘Grandfather would be appalled by trampoline park’

THE granddaughter of the wealthy philanthropist who funded Sobell Leisure Centre this week backed calls to halt controversial plans for a trampoline park at its sports hall.

Gaie Scouller, whose grandfather Sir Michael Sobell’s foundation built the Holloway sports centre as a gift to Islingtonians, said the businessman would have oppos­ed Town Hall plans to turn half the sports courts into a trampoline park. It would mean the sports centre becoming a “recreation attraction”, she said.

The intervention by Ms Scouller, a trustee of the Sobell Foundation, comes as trampoline gymnasts using the centre voiced their opposition to the plans.

In an open letter, which Ms Scouller wrote after being approached by anti-trampoline park campaigners, she said: “My grandfather would be appalled that people’s access to these facilities would be hugely limited in favour of a recreational attraction.

“On behalf of the Sobell Foundation trustees, I endorse their [the campaigners’] request and urge [Islington Council] to rethink.”

Ms Scouller was backed by a regular trampoline gymnast at the centre, Adrian Stern, who said that trampoline parks are “not about sport but are entertainment attractions for children and teenagers”.

He said that trampoline gymnastics, which is an Olympic sport, was reduced from 50 sessions a week to just 10 in April, just two months before work on the trampoline park started in June.

“No serious trampoline training can take place in a trampoline park as British gymnastics will not allow coaches to coach or clubs to be run inside parks given their safety record,” he added.

Hundreds of five-a-side football players were displaced when work started on the trampoline park covering half the courts at the council-owned sports centre. The work was agreed without a formal consultation, sparking protests.

Councillor Janet Burgess, Islington’s health chief, this week said in a letter to the Tribune that she understood “the heartfelt concerns of some people who currently use the centre to play football. That is why the council has worked hard with GLL to review the operation of the centre to allow indoor football to continue”.

The council last week offered the footballers five-and-a-half hours a week on the indoor courts, which campaigners dismissed as “wholly inadequate”.

The Town Hall and GLL, the company which manages the centre, said that the new trampoline park will draw in double the number of visitors to the centre, particularly teenage girls, and income from it will help offset cuts from central government.

The sports hall will shut from Tuesday until September 6 for work on the trampoline park.

Horse lover sold his stables to Queen

SIR Michael Sobell (above), born in 1892, was a successful businessman who created an electronics empire after his family escaped from the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Austria.

He cut his teeth as a leather goods importer after leaving Finsbury’s Central Foundation Boys’ School. Following World War I, he started importing radios and electrical equipment from the United States and became a manufacturer of electronic appliances.

On his death in 1993, he left millions of pounds to his charitable organisation, which supports health and wellbeing projects.

He funded the Sobell Centre in Holloway, which opened 44 years ago, alongside hospices in Oxford and Northwood. He donated £1million towards the cost of the sports centre – equivalent to £12million in today’s money.

A great fan of thoroughbred horse-racing, he sold his training stables in Berkshire to the Queen in 1982.


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