Eastbourne parent 'immensely disappointed and angry' to learn sport centre will shut to public

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In June it was announced that Cavendish Sports Centre will close to the general public from September and a parent has spoken out against the decision.

The decision has been taken by Eastbourne Borough Council (EBC) and Wave Leisure, following declining footfall across several years at the site.

The facilities will continue to be used by Cavendish School only.

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Cavendish Sports Centre closes to the public - photo of Phil and Winston HallCavendish Sports Centre closes to the public - photo of Phil and Winston Hall
Cavendish Sports Centre closes to the public - photo of Phil and Winston Hall

Resident Phil Hall said in a letter to Councillor Margaret Bannister: “Like the many hundreds of people who use Cavendish Sports Centre, I was immensely disappointed and angry to learn of the short sighted, damaging, ill considered, disingenuous and economically illiterate decision to close the sports centre, a decision that many users remain completely unaware of.”

Despite the decision being based on declining footfall, Mr Hall says the holiday club his son attends is ‘heavily oversubscribed’.

The club only costs £23 a day per child, this is much lower than the average cost of sending a child to nursery. According to daynurseries.co.uk a full day at nursery in the UK costs between £52-54.

Mr Hall says the centre should examine its pricing structure instead.

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He said in the letter: “I would certainly be happy to pay £35 a day for my son to attend and if this was the pricing structure an extra £768 a day would be made.

“The proposed relocation of the playscheme to Shinewater is of course completely useless for the many parents who live in the immediate area of Cavendish like me and walk their children to the playscheme and it creates more unnecessary traffic on the roads at peak times in contradiction of your stated net zero ambitions. It also ignores the fact that parents in that area will then understandably wish to use the playscheme and it will be even more heavily oversubscribed as a result.”

Mr Hall is disabled and unable to drive his son to the holiday club in Shinewater or Hampden Park. Although there is a bus, he said it’s ‘prohibitively expensive’ and takes nearly an hour.

The issue of price structure is something Mr Hall says needs to be looked at with adult classes too. He currently plays badminton at the centre but it only costs £3.60 for two hours.

Mr Hall said: “The pricing structure is a joke.”

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Mr Hall’s letter finishes with a plea to Cllr Bannister to continue running the playscheme.

Cllr Bannister said: "Cavendish Sports Centre was originally funded by East Sussex County Council (ESCC), EBC and Cavendish School but when ESCC withdrew its finance, the other two partners were left to cover all the costs.

"The pandemic has had a devastating impact on our budgets and we have been forced to make tough decisions in areas that are not financially sustainable, including at Cavendish Sports Centre. Following consultation with the school and Wave Leisure we made the painful decision to restrict its use for school only.

"We hope that many families will be able to enjoy playschemes that operate throughout the school holidays at Hampden Park Sports Centre, with sports activities also taking place at Shinewater Sports Centre and Eastbourne Sports Park.

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"Families who live in the Cavendish School area and would like to walk to a playscheme may wish to consider those run by other providers at locations such as Motcombe School and Ocklynge School."