Parents outraged as kids' gym classes at Salt Ayre Leisure Centre in Lancaster face the chop
Popular children’s gymnastics classes at a Lancaster leisure centre look set to be axed.
A petition has now been set up to try and stop city council run Salt Ayre Leisure Centre from axing the kids’ classes.
The person who set the petition up said:“Salt Ayre Leisure Centre have decided to scrap their entire gymnastics programme after 21 years with effect from this week, leaving over 300 local children without the opportunity to train.
“This severely affects not only these children’s physical health, but also their social and emotional wellbeing.
“This club is not just some exercise class, it is many of these children’s life.
“We would like the managers of Salt Ayre Leisure Centre and Lancaster City Council to re-visit this decision and to consult with parents and gymnastics staff to find a better outcome. This is the only club in the local area that has all the apparatus needed along with highly qualified coaches.
“After a year of missed training due to the pandemic, there was finally light at the end of the tunnel and the children had only one question on their minds: “When is gymnastics back on?” If Salt Ayre upholds their decision, the answer will be: “Never”.”
Jill Trafford, gym instructor, said: “The gym programme has been running for 26 years and that’s how long I’ve been working there.
“There are over 300 children on the gymnastics programme at Salt Ayre and it has always been popular with waiting lists.
“I teach children from 18 months old to 16-years-old, some vulnerable children and some with disabilities.
“I had to go to a meeting and I was told that the gymnastics classes will cease at Salt Ayre.
“For some of these children that is the only thing they do and they love the sport and the courses.
“I have been given different reasons why the gym classes have to finish, from Covid, to the gym members need more classes.
“The young members are the future of Salt Ayre centre.
“I’m utterly devastated. One of the coaching staff came at 18 months old, it is a dreadful decision for me and the children.
“I’d like to start the classes somewhere else if I can.
“At the moment they want the space in the main hall but surely that is just temporary, surely things will come back after lockdown.
“They haven’t thought about the children and people are just devastated.”
The mum of two teenagers who go to gym classes at Salt Ayre Leisure Centre, Lisa Spurr, from Bolton-le-Sands, said: “My two daughters are nearly 13 and 15 and one of my daughter’s has been going to the gym classes since she was a baby, twice a week for years.
“They are in the top squads 4 and 5 and have entered competitions and shows. I have put so much money into it as well and we have been very loyal.
“We are all absolutely gutted. We are not only upset and disgusted for the children but for the gym instructor as well.
“The kids mental health is through the roof and they can’t do the one thing they love that has got them through all this.
“I never ever thought this would happen.
“They have used the lockdown as an excuse to get rid of the gymnastics classes, that is how I feel.
“If there was some way as mums we could all help the gym instructor we would love to do that.”
Uschi Maden from Lancaster, whose 11-year-old daughter goes to gym classes at Salt Ayre Leisure Centre, said: “My daughter is in Squad 4, the highest training group and started off in Jiminy Crickets when she was under two-years-old.
“She has just progressed through the ranks. I haven’t told her the classes are finishing as she would be devastated, gym is her life and she doesn’t want to do any other sport.
“She has been holding out for the day she can go back to the gym.
“My daughter has been going two times a week for classes etc on strength and conditioning, she has been building up and working for years on this.
“She wants to pursue gymnastics as far she possibly can.
“The coach is fantastically experienced and she has coached at a very high level.
“The girls have the utmost respect for her.
“It is a brilliant team. I can’t imagine it being a financial decision as 300 gymnasts pay by direct debit month in month out.
“I don’t understand how this is not a winner.
“It’s a fixed income and reliable. We all sit in the cafe and consume coffee and cakes as well.
“It is absolutely ridiculous. The last year has been tough on the kids and the thought of the gym classes starting has kept up the motivation when can we start going back to training,
“Not offering gymnastics at Salt Ayre is a real shame.”
Rachel Wright’s daughter Lucy, 13, has been attending gymnastics at Salt Ayre Leisure Centre for about four years.
Rachel said: “No real explanation has been given. The club has been running for 21 years and kids need something like this to go to. They all love it and are really dedicated.”
“It means the world to them and they have been waiting all this time to go back.”
“Lucy has made some really good friends, it’s her passion. She started off watching people do gymnastics on YouTube and so I contacted Salt Ayre about the club. She has really grown into it and she just loves it.”
“It just seems such a shame. It just doesn’t make sense - it’s so important for kids to be doing things like this, it’s so good for them.”
A spokesman for Lancaster City Council which runs Salt Ayre leisure centre said: “The council is always striving to ensure that its programming at Salt Ayre Leisure Centre provides a wide and varied range of activities.
“Our communities have diverse needs and from time to time we need to review our offer so it is catering to as many people as possible.
“The continuation of the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in us having to review all of our programming and operational approach to the activities we run to ensure that visitors to Salt Ayre can enjoy them safely.
“In light of this the council is in the process of discussing the introduction of some new and exciting activities that appeal to a broader cross section of residents.
“In building a programme that is both safe and will attract the widest range of users we have had to plan to no longer provide some activities .
“This may include the gymnastics offer, which has not been able to take place at the centre since March 2020.
“There is already provision for gymnastics in the district, and in the event that the gymnastics offer does not continue at Salt Ayre Leisure Centre, we will work with the freelance instructor who provides the classes, to explore options for alternative arrangements with venues across the district.”