What used to be called the Rivermead Sports & Leisure Complex (hence RSL) has apparently closed it's doors to all sports activities. Although it is now known as the Rivermead Leisure Complex, it is no longer a place where one can logically associate with sports like Karate, Badminton, Squash and Swimming etc. It is now run by a company Called Greenwich Leisure Limited based in London.
In December last, my yearly block booking for the Thames Suite facility was accepted as normal. By completing this I was bound to pay my booking fees quarterly in advance. If for unforeseen circumstances there was a cancellation, my refund would appear as a credit in the next quarter i.e. up to three months later.
With less than two months notice, I have been told that Rivermead can no longer accommodate my Karate Club and I have been forcefully relocated to the Meadway Sports Centre with effect of 31st March. How many other Martial Arts & fitness clubs have had to suffer like this? What thought have they given to my members many of whom now have to trudge half way across to the other side of Reading.
No reason was given for the cancellation of the annual contract (after seven years of teaching there!) except to say that they could "no longer fit me in!" My guess is that there defence will be that the people of Reading don't do enough sport these days and if that's true it is a sad reflection of our modern coach potato way of life.
It appears now that Rivermead has turned into a place where you go for CD, Antique and Computer fairs or Cat & Bird Competitions. The Thames Suite is now mostly used as a crèche facility for toddlers or used as an off-licence pub and often now you'll see wedding receptions held in the main hall or even disco's. Of course during WOMAD and the Reading Rock Festival it's completely closed. That's not my idea of leisure!
Where else can one get fit now in Reading, like the government wants us too. The South Reading Sports Centre (or whatever it's called now?) is still being rebuilt and closed, the Meadway Sports Centre is about to be re-built/furbished. The only thing left to do is run along the length of our busy, clogged up and dangerous Reading Roads and train for the annual Reading Half Marathon and get a decent lung full of hydrogen cyanide & carbon monoxide. Where are the young supposed to go now except to run the streets and earn an ASBO award?
I'm all in favour competition and old dowdy local government establishments being run by private partnerships etc in the pursuit of making them more efficient, better facilitated and nicer places to train, but not in this case when the last thing you can do at these places is actually do any sport.
HAVE NO FEAR!!, I will find a place for you to continue your karate training on Saturday mornings, all I ask is that you are patient during this turbulent time and understand the difficulties I'm up against.
In the mean time, thank you ALL for your continued loyalty, custom and friendly helpful support.
Updated: Wednesday, 15 September 2010