New Addington Amateur Boxing Club, which faced immediate closure at the end of March, has been given a temporary reprieve. Another one.
As with most things involving Croydon Council, the outcome is less than satisfactory.
One source said today, “If this was a boxing bout, the club has just taken an 8 count…,” before adding with a sense of menace, “But now they are coming out swinging.”
At the start of March, the club was served with less than one month’s notice on its tenure at the council-owned local community centre, with nowhere else to go.
Council officials have now told the club it can continue to use the community centre until the end of this year.
This might just be connected to the fact that there is a by-election coming up in New Addington North in a couple of weeks. The Labour-held ward is probably the most vulnerable to the Tories of the five council by-elections being staged on May 6. It is just possible that someone at the council hopes that this latest temporary fix for New Addington’s boxers will boot any adverse feelings into the long grass, at least until all the votes have been counted.
But the club has also been told that after December, they will be on their own, and will have to find a new home themselves.
The obvious place to look ought to have been the £25million council-owned sports and leisure centre in the centre of New Addington – but it has been built without anyone among its architects, council officials or the local Labour councillors ever considering that they would need to provide permanent accommodation for the long-established boxing club.
In many respects, the New Addington ABC’s situation is a case study in everything that is wrong with Croydon Council and the incompetence and idiocy of the political leaders in our bankrupt borough.
The boxing club may be on the ropes, but they have no intention of throwing in the towel just yet.
According to local sources, the club’s officials and volunteers are obviously relieved that they won’t be turfed out immediately, as the council had threatened. But they are not happy with the council, who they see as trying to wash their hands of the local group.
The council has offered to extend the lease at the Addington Community Centre until the end of the year, provided the boxing club pays its costs – which they are happy to do. Club officials know that, come 2022, and they will be in the same situation of possible closure that they faced a couple of weeks ago.
First formed 50 years ago, the club was based for two decades in a council-owned building behind the Timebridge Centre. The club has a well-earned reputation for important community work with youngsters, especially in the past few years when government-imposed austerity has seen so many cuts to the council’s own youth and community work.
As Duke McKenzie, Croydon’s former three-weight world champion, told Inside Croydon last month after a visit, “Without youth clubs such as New Addington ABC, a lot of boys and girls with get lost in knife and gun crime and other vices. There isn’t a single boxer I know personally that boxing hasn’t given a lifeline to.
“It goes without saying that if this club is lost, the backlash will be 100 times worse.”
In 2019, the New Addington club was told by the council that it would need to move when the Timebridge Centre was being redeveloped. It was strongly suggested at that time that, once opened, the shiny new leisure centre would provide the boxing club’s new home.
New Addington ABC, in common with most boxing clubs, requires 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’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, though Croydon Council says that the final bill was £25million – which is at least £10million more than similar sized leisure centres with pools.
But the delays and cost-overruns, typical of projects under Croydon’s bungling council, were not the only short-comings of the New Addington Leisure Centre.
Until Simon Hall’s resignation, two of New Addington’s four councillors were cabinet members. It was Hall’s resignation which has caused the by-election next month.
Hall was the borough’s finance chief for six years, duties which will have included signing off the ever-rising bills for the leisure centre. Another New Addington councillor is Oliver “Ollie” Lewis, who just happens to be the cabinet member for sport and shit.
That between them, Hall and Lewis have managed to deliver a brand new leisure centre, two years late and £17million over-budget, and yet which is still unable to accommodate one of the area’s biggest sports clubs, says all you need to know about Croydon’s bankrupt borough.
Read more: Newman and Hall resign as councillors claiming a ‘witchhunt’
Read more: ‘Shameless’: public react angrily to councillors’ resignations
Read more: Officials to investigate possible wrong-doing at council
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