Batchwood Redevelopment  Proposals – Squash

Here are the contents of an open letter sent to St Albans Councillors.

Sent: Friday, December 02, 2005 10:50 PM

Dear Councillor,

With this email I attach a letter on behalf of The Herts Squash Rackets Association. As with my emailed letter sent earlier today it would be greatly appreciated if you could give consideration to it's content prior to the meeting on 6th December.
Yours sincerely,
Peter Bonser (Batchwood)

Dear Councillor,
Re : Batchwood Leisure Redevelopment Proposals – Squash

Herts Squash has been contacted by the squash players at Batchwood about the impending Leisure Connections review of sport facilities there and in particular how this might affect future squash provision.

We are now aware of the Option 1 proposal to remove 1 of the 2 squash courts in favour of extending the gym and fitness rooms over 2 floors leaving the 1 court. Option 2 would retain both courts. We understand monthly club leagues have been ongoing for the duration of the squash courts' existence and currently some 40+ players participate regularly in these leagues, most having done so for many years. There is also a significant number other regular non-league players.

What is of specific interest to us is that in the last 5 years the players have organised a team that plays all the year round in the Herts Squash League. This involves travelling weekly to matches around the county representing Batchwood. Such has been the enthusiasm that in the last 2 years there is now a second Batchwood team playing in the League. Teams participating in the League are taking part in a competitive but social team sport, which includes dining together post-match both away and at Batchwood. The keen rivalry in these matches is the means by which a high standard of squash is maintained. Talent nurtured in our Leagues forms the lifeblood for county and ultimately national and international standard players.

Herts Squash particularly need to make you aware that participation in our League is dependant on there being at least 2 courts in order to complete the games in the evening. Having only 1 court would mean that most players would be forced to move to another club to play their Herts League and club squash or stop playing altogether and the cost of squash at some of the private clubs may be prohibitive for some.

We therefore wish to strongly offer our support for Option 2, which would allow for the continuation of a flourishing squash 'club' at Batchwood. This is also of particular relevance in that it is understood Leisure Connections are also looking to close both squash courts at Harpenden.

Should you close both courts at Harpenden and 1 at Batchwood this, we are sure you are aware, will leave only 1 Council owned court in the St Albans area. This means that squash will effectively be no longer available as a council provided sport.

Whilst it is true that some clubs have reduced the number of courts we believe that the slide in popularity of squash has stopped. In fact my own small members club in Radlett has just finished refurbishing the 3rd and 4th courts for £50,000. Bishops Stortford, Broxbourne, Berkhamsted, Tring, Northwood, R3 in Stevenage and others have recently invested in new buildings and extra staff.

I can send details of Hertfordshire's prowess in the Junior National County Championships and the flourishing Junior inter-club leagues, if you would like some evidence.

As the County Development Officer for Hertfordshire I find that where there is a will, squash is very successful. The courts may also be used creatively in off-peak periods. Cannons use their courts as a Crèche and for fitness training and circuits whenever the squash courts are not normally booked. I can offer my advice and access to our National Development Team if you would like any help. Do you remember the "Squash Taster Day" that I ran at Batchwood five years ago? It is a strange coincidence that squash has become very active since then. It just requires a little effort and maybe some help.

To conclude Herts Squash would be very disappointed to see the demise of squash at Batchwood and more particularly Council provision of the sport.

Yours faithfully,
Herts County Squash