Anger over restricted hours on Nelson's Seedhill track

Seedhill
Seedhill

A member of the public has complained that a popular Pendle running track has become "inaccessible to the public".

Mrs Marjorie Powell contacted the Nelson Leader to highlight the restricted opening hours at Seedhill Athletics Track and Fitness Centre in Nelson, now run by Pendle Leisure Trust.

Mrs Powell said: "They are opening only on Monday to Friday from 4pm to 9pm, no member of the public, athletes or fitness seekers can train.

"Numerous county and international athletes from the borough cannot get their training done ready for competitions.

"These athletes, at the end of the day, not only represent their athletic clubs but Pendle.

"This is a great problem for them, having always had access up until a few weeks ago.

"I have spoken to leisure services and they are not interested. The athletics track is not for throwing medicine balls on the track and large tractor tyres and beer kegs damaging the synthetic track, which incidentally was badly damage by an 'Ironman' competition that was allowed on there and caused a lot of damage and cost a lot of money to repair."

Mrs Powell also complained that the cost of using the track, £4 per person, including children, is the most expensive in the north.

She added: "The track isn't even suitable to hold athletic events up to AAA standard. Every facility in Pendle is swimming.

"Junior gym children's entrance fees are cheaper. A child athlete's training session is usually between 30 to 40 minutes, this is ludicrous pricing.

"Parents are up in arms about this. Pricing in Burnley is £2adult and £1.50.

"They also let athletes (senior) loan a key for access of their track for £20 a year. An athlete lets themselves in and locks the gate behind them when their training session is finished.

"Pendle Leisure say health and safety won't allow this. This is rubbish. There is a cycle track and mountain bike track not too far from there where cyclists can go on free.

"An accident riding a bike is more so than someone running round an athletics track . No equipment would be used as field event athletes usually go where their club is.

"A lot of athletes work nights or have families, and are therefore unable to get there in the evening.

"Lots of athletes, joggers and walkers are not being catered for.

"Over the years this facility has produced some great athletes who have been proud to be able to say we train on Pendle athletics track, not any more, we are not allowed due to the leisure services not understanding an athlete's needs."

Pendle Leisure Trust’s Chief Executive, Alison Goode, said: “Seedhill Athletics Track and Fitness Centre is available to all members of the public five days a week – Monday to Friday, from 4pm to 9pm, 8pm on a Friday.

“A number of Pendle athletics clubs do use the facilities; but it is not used exclusively by clubs, anyone can use the track during the official opening times. We welcome all members of the community. In fact we help and support Trawden Athletics Club with the Couch to 5K programme which is free.”

“The facility used to be open seven days a week, but due to cuts forced upon Pendle Leisure Trust by the council and because of its lack of use during the day and at weekends, the decision was taken to close the facility during the day midweek and at weekends.

“I must stress that the track is available to anyone who wants to use it and it is available for hire at the weekends. The facility is also open during the week at particular times to hold specific health related sessions such as Cardiac Rehab.

“As far as pricing, the Trust has always charged a generic fee for both adults and children to use the track. However we do offer a Junior Membership which is available for just £9.99 per month, so if a child wanted to use the track on a regular basis, then this would create great savings. In addition the Junior Membership also allows use of the Trust’s other leisure and sports facilities as part of the price.

“As a Trust, we take health and safety very seriously and therefore we cannot simply give a key to someone for them to use the track themselves – we would not do this for any of our other facilities. We have a health and safety responsibility and therefore if someone were to have an accident on the Track when not officially open then the Trust would be liable.

“As for the cycle track on Swindon, this is a completely different issue – this is in a public park and free to use. Seedhill is not an open facility and anyone using the track when not officially open is trespassing.