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Game Over!

Created on 24/01/2020 @ 10:23
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When the Armoury closes its doors as a fitness centre today (Friday), it hammers the final nail in a coffin for a sport that has been played in the town for decades.

The current tenants for the town council-owned building have been told to make way for a charity, despite offering to buy the building, and its handover leaves squash with no home in the town.

The sport has a keen playing base which will need to look elsewhere for a game, in the same way that sports like tennis, hockey and others are having to do due to the current shortage of facilities.

Money is being pumped into developing sports facilities at the high school but it is still not clear how this will benefit the town as a whole.

And now, Montgomeryshire Assembly Member Russell George has weighed in by saying he is “concerned with the deterioration and access to sporting facilities in Welshpool”.

The Armoury’s demise is a knock-on from the unpopular decision to close Powys County Council’s Neuadd Maldwyn (pictured) and move its staff to the library, which will be downgraded and squeezed in with Powysland Museum this year. It soon became apparent that the library would not be big enough so the council told charities, including Pont Hafren, to move from their high street building so that more staff can also be based there.

Following the backlash to that decision, Powys agreed to help Pont Hafren to find a new home and it seems that a deal has been done with Welshpool Town Council to relocate to their Armoury building at the expense of the health and well-being business that was successfully operating there.

They will now relocate to the industrial estate for a new venture called Transformer Fitness, but it won’t save the sport of squash.

“Having lost the school sports field last year to what is currently an abandoned building site it appears there is about to be another casualty for sport in Welshpool,” one player, who takes his son to play, told us.

“The Armoury in Welshpool has been the sole provider of a squash court for many decades and it is now being closed for that use by the town council.

“When I asked the town council if the court was closing, they said: ‘Yes but there are squash courts in Llanfair’.

“This closure does not send a positive message to our younger generation. It seems to be getting harder for anyone in Welshpool to be able access sports facilities to enhance their physical and mental wellbeing.”

The Armoury’s demise as a sports centre is the latest blow for a town which is already reeling from the loss of the Salop Road sports fields and long term closure of the all-weather pitch due to flood damage.

It means that dozens of kids are currently heading out of the town to play sports like football, hockey, athletics, as well as racket sports like tennis and now squash. Guilsfield, Berriew, Forden and Newtown have been providing facilities instead and now squash players will also have to find alternative options.

Mr George, AM, said enough is enough and has written to Powys County Council and Welshpool Town Council to ask for clarity and to understand the situation better.

“I am concerned with the deterioration and access to sporting facilities in Welshpool,” he told us. “We are so often made aware of the need to be active and tackle obesity and associated problems.

“I have made my own enquiries with both Powys County Council and the town council in an effort to establish what their current plans are for properties they are responsible for, and to attempt to seek an explanation of why they have made the decisions they have.”

We’ve asked Welshpool Town Council again this week for a statement, and will publish any reply we may receive.

A message from the departing Armoury tenants to its hundreds of members:

The gym will be closed permanently from Saturday, January 25, to ensure that the equipment, mirrors, flooring, etc. is moved into the new building by February 1. 

From Monday, you can use Great Fitness on your current contract or on a pay as you go basis.

The contract that you are currently on will be honoured until it has reached 12 months at Great Fitness; after the contract expires the price will rise to the £19.99 offer price.

The all new Transformer Fitness will be ready on February 1. There is an offer price of £19.99 (direct debit contract) or pay as you go options as well. This gym will be 9000sq ft.

We appreciate the patience shown by you all and assure the wait will be worth it!

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