LETTER: Tube loss will impact athletics

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I was interested to read Jonathan Chowen’s letter re the proposed new leisure centre. After a U-turn and numerous consultants’ reports, Horsham District looks as though, at long last, it will get a new leisure centre built at Broadbridge Heath.

The new facility hopefully will be able to accommodate the increase in population not only in the Broadbridge Heath area but also for the whole of the district, although I must express some concern whether the new Sportshall will be able to cater for all the new sports that Jonathan Chowen has outlined in his letter, as well as the various users of the current leisure centre.

The scheduling of the use of the Sportshall will take some working out and it has already been intimated to me that our club, because we have been told that we will lose our current indoor facility (the Tube), and will need to use the new Sportshall, we will not have all the space we require.

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It should be remembered that the Tube is currently used for other sports and activities as well as athletics and it could continue to accommodate activities that are unable to find suitable time in the new Sportshall.

We have been told that the outdoor track will remain, but with the possibility of being moved to a new site in the future.

At least the guarantee of an outdoor track has been promised. Over the years HDC has always been very supportive of athletics for which the club has always been extremely grateful, including when the track was built, the then councillors and officers having the foresight to have the indoor area (the Tube) included in the building of the current leisure centre as well as the outdoor track.

I would like to pick up on one point in Jonathan Chowen’s letter where he states that Crawley, Brighton and Worthing clubs do not have a specific indoor facility but still produce high class athletes.

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I would point out that many of these high class athletes have actually achieved that status by being able to use the Tube, and the excellent facilities that it provides.

Over the years the Tube has been used by Olympic medallists Mark Rowland, Roger Black and Kriss Akabussi as well as by British Pole Vault record holder Nick Buckfield and current British No. 1 Discus thrower, Jade Lally, as well as many other top class athletes.

Nick lived in Crawley and was instrumental in obtaining UK Athletics funding for the current heating system in the Tube. Jonathan Chowen has always argued that he does not think that Horsham District Council taxpayers should pay for a facility that athletes from outside the district could use, although these athletes do pay to use the facility.

This is rather ironic as in the dark days of 2012, when we were informed that the leisure centre and track were to be demolished, we were told that we could use the Crawley track. He obviously thinks that it is okay for Crawley council tax payers to pay for Horsham District athletes to use their facilities, but not vice versa.

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The loss of the Tube will have a tremendous impact not only on the club, but on athletics in Sussex in general.

The Sussex Athletics Association uses the Tube to host squad days in the winter for the more talented athletes and England Athletics uses the facility to put on coaching courses, both of these events will now have to find new homes.

Horsham should be proud to have such a facility and having top athletes use it, and not to discard a perfectly good facility.

It was not that long ago that Jonathan Chowen wanted to set up an Academy for Sport in Horsham for talented performers, apparently this idea has been removed from his vision as well as the Tube.


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Chairman, Horsham Blue Star Harriers, Hillcrest Close, Scaynes Hill


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