So Westminster Council has confirmed that the closure of the Jubilee Sports Centre in Queen's Park will go ahead, despite widespread opposition from across north/west Westminster. Yes, we will get a new and probably very good sports and leisure centre just outside the borough boundary into Brent. I know, and understand the reasons for there being. some support for this development, especially from those closer to the Moberly centre, and from amongst potential users who point to upgraded facilities for gymnastics and health and fitness facilities. Yes, Westminster has also now conceded, as a result of pressure from the ‘Save Jubilee' campaign, that a sports hall will be provided on part of the old Jubilee site, in acceptance of the argument that deprivation and high population density make it impossible to justify removing leisure facilities from the heart of Queen's Park.
However, most of the campaigner's concerns remain unanswered. We have to take largely on trust that the planned £600,000 savings from reduced running costs for the two centres will be found without hitting charges or facilities. The council is unable to explain whether the anticipated 65% rise in use of the new centre will be local, or if the New Moberly will simply draw in users from further away, including outside Westminster. How will local people really benefit? Will those we most want to get more active, or be diverted away from less healthy and desirable pursuits, be the ones who start using the new Moberly when they have not been going either there or to the Jubilee now? No-one seems to know. Meanwhile the many voices supporting keeping the swimming pool on its present location have been overruled. Footballers will lose the synthetic pitch now on the Moberly, which will move instead to Queen's Park Gardens, displacing the activities that go on there at present. The well-used outdoor basketball court on the Mozart estate disappears. No guarantees have been given as to how the proposed small sports hall on the Jubilee site will be funded. And, of course, the 120 new homes to be built on the two sports centre sites will do nothing to meet housing need and will be unaffordable to most local people.
Whilst the battle has been lost, to the surprise of very few people, there is still much to fight for and I, local councillors and local campaigners will certainly not be letting go in the weeks and months to come.