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Goodmayes Park Extension row flares up again after ‘gates locked’

09:19 27 February 2014

Councillor Ali Hai (front row, far right) and residents protest against the leasing of Goodmayes Park to a private football club.

Councillor Ali Hai (front row, far right) and residents protest against the leasing of Goodmayes Park to a private football club.

Archant

Residents have renewed their fight to stop the lease of Goodmayes Park Extension to a football club amid rumours it has been closed to the public.

Redbridge Council granted the lease to Singh Sabha Football Club (SSFC) for 35 years at a “peppercorn” annual rent of £1 last year.

But there have not been any updates on the use of the open space since June and on Saturday, visitors found the gates locked.

Cllr Ali Hai said he saw a dog walker get stuck trying to squeeze through a gap in the fence.

He added: “When you turn up to the park and it’s closed and there’s no communication it makes people concerned.

“They don’t want the park to go to a private club, they want it to stay with the council.”

Although the lease was confirmed, negotiations about conditions are thought to be ongoing.

SSFC said they were planning a “centre of excellence” for sports and a “state of the art” clubhouse.

Chairman Jagjit Rai said the club was open to all the community and public access would remain.

There are currently five football pitches and a mini-soccer pitch at the site and two blocks of changing rooms.

A petition signed by 1,126 people supported the lease.

Vision Redbridge, the council’s leisure arm, was losing £17,710 a year after maintenance costs and booking receipts.

The council did not respond to the Recorder’s request for information.

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