End of an era

SIR – I write to you with great sadness in my heart as we all witness the closure of yet another historical landmark that has made Bricket Wood part of what it is today. It is, as I have already said, with great sorrow that we have to watch a wonderful fa

SIR - I write to you with great sadness in my heart as we all witness the closure of yet another historical landmark that has made Bricket Wood part of what it is today.

It is, as I have already said, with great sorrow that we have to watch a wonderful facility here in Bricket Wood close forever. This facility, which over the years has given so much pleasure to so many people, not just from Bricket Wood but from the surrounding areas of Chiswell Green, How Wood, Park Street and other areas.

I am of course talking of the Bricket Wood Leisure Centre that is based in the wonderful grounds of the HSBC Training College at Smug Oak Lane which closed its doors for the very last time on February 28.

The closure of this leisure and fitness facility will cause a lot of residents to change their lifestyle and even reluctantly give up taking part in healthy sport and leisure activities which reluctantly is what will happen in my case.

The closure of this fine establishment must surely be a great big smack in the face for the Government who are continually preaching to us about driving five miles less to help the planet and, of course, it's free swimming programme for everybody over 60 to help and promote good health and fitness for all.

The decision to authorise this closure was taken by the Cabinet of the St Albans City and District Council which has reneged on its word when we understand it originally said that the leisure facility at Bricket Wood would not be closed down until the new Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre was up and running which would be sometime in 2012.

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The way the situation is progressing there with its archaeological digs survey and not a brick laid yet may put this date further back. I have heard it said by SADC that the people who use the Bricket Wood Leisure Centre can be accommodated at other leisure centres like Woodside, Westminster Lodge or even Harpenden.

Woodside is a small unit that struggles to cope with the populace of its own surrounding area. Having been there twice to look around with a friend, on the second occasion there was nowhere to park so we had to return home again.

The same situation has been voiced by many other people. Westminster Lodge fares no better and we can all read the negative comments from other people's letters in local newspapers regarding its available space which appears to be minimal and cannot cope.

The water aerobics instructor from the Bricket Wood Leisure Centre has been offered a four-week trial of just one slot per week starting at 8.15am (this will be difficult as this is peak travelling time) and if it does not work out she will be made redundant.

They offered her the babies' pool at first - how stupid that was - and they have now given her the use of the main pool for her water aerobics but it has to be shared with a general swimming session.

It appears that they are making things awkward as they do not want the extra people from Bricket Wood there.

The Leisure Centre at Bricket Wood may well be in need of some TLC and a lick of paint but it was a very good, functional, working leisure facility that gave so much pleasure to people of all ages with its good-size swimming pool, eight badminton courts (only four at Westminster Lodge), trampolining, water aerobics, body pump, body sculpt, tennis, football, roller skating, a full-size running track and just as importantly a cr�che where mums and dads could safely leave their young ones while they exercise.

I feel that the reckless, ill-thought decision by the councillors to close this leisure centre has been brought about mainly to help finance the new Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre.

I would point out that not everything in life is about making a profit; there are many things in life which will always run at a loss but they are a wonderful asset to the community and life in general, such as the Bricket Wood Leisure Centre which is being sacrificed to pay for their mistakes.

I would like to know where our councillor Sheila Burton (the portfolio holder for healthy sport and living) stands in all of this.

Has she looked into this situation or is she even aware of just how many people like myself will now be deprived of a healthy lifestyle and happiness due to the closure of this leisure centre or is it the case that she preaches healthy sport and living but behind her advertising charade of a healthy lifestyle for all, does she really know what's going on?

I know it's not going to happen but I would dearly like to see somebody else come to the rescue and reopen this leisure facility - what a smack in the face this would be for our uncaring council. The cheering would be heard all over Hertfordshire.

In conclusion I will sadly miss my twice-weekly swimming and water aerobics sessions here at Bricket Wood and the loss of the friendly comradeship that it has brought over the years.

I would say to everybody, we know who these people are who have orchestrated this closure and what political party they represent.

With both a general and local election looming "have your say", I know for a fact that I will. If the Lib Dems knock on my door preaching their gospel they will get the thick end of my tongue and be not very politely shown the door.


Ash Copse, Bricket Wood

SIR - Please can I publicly thank the Bricket Wood Leisure Centre staff and people behind the scenes who have provided the great local facility for several decades - I first used the pool 25 years ago.

Over the last 14 months, I have used the pool as part of my rehabilitation programme. I was greatly encouraged by the duty manager, Paul.

I have developed my strength and stamina in very small stages - initially I just sat by the pool and got familiar with the environment - then last week I achieved my personal goal of swimming a length, once again.

I appreciate that the facility is now past its best and financial decisions have meant that the pool will close to the public forever on 28 February, but the peaceful woodland location in the HSBC grounds and the friendly, supportive staff will ensure that I will have good memories and build on my recent achievement elsewhere. Thank you.


Mount Pleasant Lane

Bricket Wood