A LONG-SERVING boxing club in Lyndon has appealed to councillors for support ‘in ensuring the club’s survival’ as it faces eviction.
It has also launched a petition entitled ‘Save Solihull Community Amateur Boxing Club’ – as eviction and the expense of finding a new site threatens the club’s existence.
As we reported last month, the boxing club could be forced to close after discovering – through social media – it will have to leave its premises of 51 years.
The club has now been served verbal confirmation from Solihull council that it needs to vacate its facilities by July 31.
The club’s representative Alan Green spoke with councillors at a full council meeting on Tuesday.
The soon to be vacant premises of Summerfield Education Centre on Brackleys Way is subject to much contention.
The centre is moving its operations to Jensen House in Smith’s Wood and a decision has not yet been made on the site’s future.
As a consequence, several groups which use the premises are set for evictions including Olton Scouts and Guides groups and the Lyndon Residents Association.
The boxing club is the only organisation that directly uses the centre’s building.
The petition which was launched on Monday, April 9 has already recorded around 500 signatures.
Lyndon Liberal Democrat councillors fought for the groups to appeal to full council and voice their concerns.
Solihull Boxing Club ambassador Mr Green spoke on behalf of the club and Mr Archer – its current head coach.
He said: “I have attended this meeting to make the case for Solihull council to assist in ensuring the club’s survival.
“I have been told I only have four minutes to plea for the survival of a club which opened its doors to hundreds of young people from the Hobsmoat area for over 50 years.
“Mr Paul Archer has personally overseen the running of the club and ensured its doors remain open for the last 18 years – 18 years of voluntary service for which he should be presented with a medal.
“But instead Solihull council has presented him and the club with notice of eviction.”
The club, which is run entirely on a voluntary basis, fears it will be unable to finance a move to a new site.
The club has been part of the Lyndon community since 1967 and has around 50 members at any one time.
Mr Green continued: “Since we were informed of this, we have sought to work with the council to identify alternative accommodation. But unfortunately the council have so far been unable to identify anyone to work with us to this end.
“We have admittedly been provided with a list of premises across the borough currently used by other groups and these include Scouts, Guides and even football clubs – clearly these are not suitable for sustaining an active boxing club.”
The council has said it provided the club with ‘plenty of notice’ to begin looking at a list of 19 properties and find a new venue.
Club leadership says it will be difficult for the club to finance alternate accommodation in the private sector.
Mr Green said the club has helped members conquer personal issues as well as promote young fighters onto a national and international platform.
He said: “The clubs longevity has ensured it is embedded in the community and has provided diversionary activity through sport to members from across a diverse range of groups and has had great success in engaging with harder to reach groups such as those within the travelling community when – from time to time – they are in the area.”
In a final appeal to the council Mr Green said: “Our club is not a rich club our membership fees are kept deliberately low.
“So I ask on behalf of our club, Mr Archer and our community, that Solihull council does not ignore our plight but works with us in the next few months that remain appropriate and affordable accommodation.”
Coun Ken Meeson, cabinet member for children, education and skills, responded by saying: “I was approached by the boxing club some weeks ago and informed officers of the importance of ensuring the premises were made available or found for continuance of this very important organisation which also plays a significant role in Solihull Active (a campaign which aims to promote participation in sport and physical activity).
“No decision has yet been made on the future of the site.”
Lib Dem Councillor for Lyndon Ade Adeyemo, who arranged for the groups to be heard at Solihull council, said: “The fact the club will now have to find new premises will really hit our community hard in Lyndon ward.”