LEOMINSTER squash players will have to travel to Hereford or Ledbury to play their games after Halo Leisure announced plans to close the town’s only remaining squash court.
Leominster Leisure Centre is to receive a larger gym, bespoke work-out studio for group exercise classes, new changing rooms, a new children's indoor soft play area and new spa facilities as part of Halo's county-wide investment.
But those additions signal the end for the last squash court which looks set to close under the £1.3m investment in the centre.
Bill Wiggin, MP for North Herefordshire, said: “Whilst I welcome the investment being made in Leominster Leisure Centre, I am disappointed squash players will have to pay the price in lost facilities."
"Halo suggests the court is under-used but I don’t think Halo can assume people who play squash in Leominster will automatically travel to Hereford."
Mr Wiggin added that he had hoped and suggested that Halo refurbish one court in Hereford and one in Leominster but the leisure provider seems "determined" to stop his constituents playing squash in Leominster.
But Cathy Fletcher, a spokesman for Halo Leisure, said it was inevitable that some user groups and activities are affected within any substantial redevelopment plan.
She said the space currently used for squash can be used in more productive ways to help create a facility which will appeal to a wide audience and boost participation.
“Usage of the existing squash court has significantly declined in recent years providing inflexible space that is often largely unused during the daytime and can only accommodate a limited number of users at any one time.
“The space taken up by the court when set against the declining usage has caused us to review how we can maximise usage and increase participation in sport and leisure amongst the wider Leominster community. It is for these reasons that the proposals do not include the provision of a squash court in the refurbed building."
She added that Halo is "committed" to providing adequate squash courts in the county.
"We have been in talks with the Squash Racquets Association (SRA) and English Squash and Racketball about plans to invest in courts at Hereford and Ledbury Leisure Centres," she said.
"We are also looking to develop a development plan with the SRA to assist us to promote the sport and boost participation, especially amongst juniors, within the county."