A successful and popular community sports club in New Addington has been given until the end of this month to pack up its punchbags and other equipment and move out of council-owned premises.
The New Addington Amateur Boxing Club has had to deal with more than a year’s uncertainty over its future, after the council failed to factor-in accommodating them in a £25million supposedly “purpose-built” leisure centre.
Yesterday, the boxers were served a formal notice to quit their temporary home at the Addington Community Centre by March 31.
Ozay Ali, the council’s interim director of homes and social investment wrote, “The council were originally hopeful that it would have been possible to offer the club space at the New Addington Leisure Centre after this point.
“However, I am afraid that after detailed investigation we have concluded that this is no longer either operationally or financially feasible.”
The club was instead invited to contact the leisure centre “to explore the possibility of hiring the community space”, while also being told that because the council had declared itself bankrupt, it would be “unable to offer any financial assistance to the club”.
The formal council email still carries the slogan “Delivering for Croydon”.
Making the boxing club homeless is an omnishambles of huge proportions, even by the standards set by Croydon’s dysfunctional council.
The two New Addington wards have four Labour councillors, including Simon Hall, the cabinet member for finance who presided over the council’s Brick by Brick-induced financial collapse, and Oliver “Ollie” Lewis, who is the cabinet member for sport, shit and stuff.
Despite their local connections and direct responsibilities for spending and sports facilities, and a “prestige” leisure centre project in their wards, it appears it never occurred to either Hall nor Lewis that the New Addington Amateur Boxing Club required permanent gym space for their ring and other equipment, which cannot simply be dismantled and stored away at the end of every training session.
New Addington ABC was formed by residents and volunteers half a century ago and has developed a well-earned reputation for its important community work with youngsters, especially recently when government-imposed austerity has seen so many cuts to vital youth work.
The boxers had been based at the Timebridge Youth and Community Centre in Fieldway for 20 years.
Just before the first lockdown last year, the boxing club moved its equipment out of its hut at the Timebridge Centre to the Addington Community Centre, though they were aware that would only be until March 2021.
What is extraordinary about this situation is that, despite being three years in the planning and with a significant budget provided by the council, it never occurred to anyone – cabinet members, councillors or professional council staff – that permanent accommodation would be required at the leisure centre for the boxing club once they were moved out of the Timebridge Centre.
New Addington’s leisure centre opened in January 2020, two years later than planned. The delays were attributed to problems with a Brick by Brick housing development nearby.
The leisure centre was originally budgeted to cost £8million, but Croydon Council says that the final bill for New Addington is £25million – which is at least £10million more than similar leisure centres with pools.
This latest snub to the boxing club will do little to quell the mounting anger among New Addington residents, which originally arose over Brick by Brick’s proposals for “slumification” of their area.
New Addington ABC is the second, well-established community sports club to be uprooted from their home by the council in the past year. Croydon FC has been forced to find an alternative venue for their home games because the pitch at the council-owned Croydon Arena is not fit for purpose.
Last night, one of the boxing club volunteers posted a message on social media, “We’re back in the same position we were this time last year, except this time we’ve got absolutely no support from the council.
“They’ve also retracted their offers of the local gym space. Unfortunately, we aren’t a big money scheme that’ll benefit them, so they’ll be very quick to push us out.
“This will not end without a fight.”
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