Harpenden karate club faces being kicked out of its studio

Members of Harpenden karate club are unhappy with having to leave Harpenden leisure centre after tra

Members of Harpenden karate club are unhappy with having to leave Harpenden leisure centre after training there for 15 years Back L-R Stanley, 14 and Steve MacMurray Front L-R Grace, 9 and Pearl MacMurray, 7 and Lauren Presland, 8 - Credit: Archant

A karate club has been given the chop after 15 years operating out of the Harpenden Sports Centre - to make way for a new theatre initiative.

Parents and children were left stunned at the weekend when AHK Karate’s owner and chief instructor, Roy Hazelwood, announced that the club was being forced out by the 1Life Academy - which claims to provide a “much needed outlet for children to engage with theatrical studies such as dance, singing and acting”.

Roy said: “I was gutted when I was told. I said to the woman, ‘do you know how many years I have let this room?’ But I don’t think she cared.”

AHK have used one of the studios at the Harpenden Sport Centre for more than 15 years but now Roy is looking into the possibility of moving venue.

He said: “The main thing for me is is that it is a community, family club. A lot of people work in the week and when the weekend comes, that is their only time off.”

Roy confirmed that AHK had been offered other time slots but none of them fitted with everyone who attended his classes which are held on Saturdays.

Steve MacMurray, who has been taking his children to the karate club the Harpenden Sport Centre – which is run by 1Life – said he was disappointed at the news.

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He said: “I have been going to the club for eight years, since my son was seven years old. It has been a really great family facility for us.

“I lost my wife in June and it has been a real benefit for me.”

Parents were “outraged”, according to Steve, and expressed their disappointment at the lack of loyalty the venue had shown the karate club.

Dad-of-three Steve said that no suitable arrangement was offered by 1Life and that Roy had asked parents to “put their feelers out” in finding a new venue for the club.

A spokesperson for 1Life said: “We offered the karate school a series of alternative venues, dates and times when the school could maintain a regular weekly slot.

“We have made every attempt to reschedule this regular class in the centre and to accommodate those people who want to participate in martial arts as their chosen sport.

“We are in ongoing discussions with the karate school that will enable it to still be hosted at Harpenden Sports Hall.”

But Steve described 1Life’s response as “cobblers”.

He added: “We are all working parents and only have the weekends free to do activities like this – we don’t want it rescheduled.”