Fairlop sailing centre to remain closed during upgrade, as staff sacked

Fairlop Waters hosting an Open Day to promote different outdoor activities.. Adrian and Fraser Simps

Fairlop Waters hosting an Open Day to promote different outdoor activities.. Adrian and Fraser Simpson - Credit: Archant

Redbridge Council has pledged the Fairlop Waters Outdoor Activity Centre (FOAC) will not permanently close but instead will be upgraded, despite every single staff member being sacked. 

On Friday all 21 workers at FOAC, including three permanent staff who maintain the grounds year round and seasonal employees who work between April and October, were told they were being let go and to collect their belongings.

An email to them seen by the Recorder states: "I am really sorry to inform you that it has been agreed that FOAC will not be re-opening. Discussions are ongoing on what, if any water activity continues as FOAC will be closed.

"As some of you may know LB Redbridge are undertaking a very exciting Fairlop Waters development plan for the long term future of the site. Initial ideas include having a water-sports activity hub at the Boat House end of the lake and this project will mean water activities return to the lake in the future."

The email prompted concerns that the sailing centre was closing permanently.

The council has confirmed that FOAC will not open this year since the local authority believes Covid restrictions will not allow group sailing for much of 2021.

Redbridge council leader Cllr Jas Athwal is holding ward-specific forums with residents throughout N

Following an uproar over fears FOAC would permanently close Cllr Athwal said sailing would be at the heart of the park in the new expansion. - Credit: Archant

FOAC was also shut in the summer, despite other centres in the country being open at that time when Covid restrictions were eased.

While it is closed the council is planning on renovating it as part of the wider expansion of Fairlop Waters

Fairlop Waters

The council is converting 250 acres of depleted gravel quarries into open space, nearly doubling the size of the park. - Credit: Ken Mears

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A spokesperson for the council said it "will be working with residents to develop plans for a renovated centre with upgraded equipment and facilities as part of the wider expansion and improvements to Fairlop Waters, with sailing at the heart of the park".

Should Covid-19 restrictions allow activities to go forward later this year, the council said: "Local clubs will be supported to operate sailing, windsurfing, and rowing run by the respective clubs.

"In addition, Redbridge Council's leisure partner Vision will continue to operate boat hire (katakanus, rowing boats, bell boats, sit-up canoes) and paddleboard hire."

Council leader Jas Athwal said he was committed to expanding and improving the water activities on offer in the park.

More than 5,000 people have signed a petition to keep the sailing centre open in just a few days after the staff were notified they had been let go. 

A public consultation on the future of Fairlop is ongoing.