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Campaign to save the sports facilities in Heath Park gain momentum

Cardiff City Korfball club started a petition to save the facilities after the Cardiff Council decided to lease them out commercially

Korfball is a mixed-gender team sport which is played by two teams of eight.

Local sports club’s petition against Cardiff Council’s decision to turn facilities at Heath Park into offices gains momentum after it receives support from other clubs.

Cardiff City Korfball club started the petition which has received more than 2000 signatures after the Council announced that it will turn the sports facilities such as the changing rooms, storage, and toilets into offices and rent them out commercially.

“Since we started the petition a lot of clubs have come forward in the local area who didn’t know that the building was there, and they would have been used now. So it does show that there is a demand there which is a part of the council’s argument that it is not in demand, it is not being used,” said James Wilcox, Chair of Cardiff City and MET Korfball club.

The junior football club was paying to hire a container unit to store things. They did not have access to changing rooms and toilets because of the lack of knowledge and advertisement of the building and its facilities claimed the Cardiff City Korfball club.

A Cardiff Council spokesperson gave a different account to the issue. He said, “The changing rooms adjoining the existing offices at Heath Park are underused and have not been booked for football fixtures on a Saturday or Sunday in the last three years”

In August 2018, Cardiff Korfball club and the council agreed to create a Community Asset Transfer of the building under which the costs for running the building would be borne by the clubs using it but the ownership will still remain with the council.

But in April 2019, the council decided against this arrangement and that they would lease the building commercially instead.

A Cardiff Council spokesperson said, “A Community Asset Transfer was considered as an initial possibility, however, having fully assessed the viability of the proposal, the decision was taken not to proceed with this and instead to secure a commercial lease for the premises.”

“It is money, which is understandable given the circumstances. It is also because the council felt the building was not used often, which is something they have said to us on a few occasions but obviously we were keen to use the building, other clubs they use it currently. Our point was that the building could be better used, it wasn’t wildly advertised,” said Mr. Wilcox.

The archery club also uses these facilities and is bound to be affected by the council’s decision. A council spokesman said, “Arrangements are also being made to ensure that alternative storage facilities are available to allow the archery club to continue operating from the site.”

James Wilcox (left), 25, started playing Korfball 10 years ago when his mother’s friend at Cardiff University introduced it to him.

The club is looking for at least 2500 signatures post which they expect one of the councilors of Heath Ward to put forward the petition in the next council meeting.

“Hopefully by that point, we have reached a large number of signatures, and we will be able to have a compelling case to look forward to,” said Mr. Wilcox.

Korfball is a mixed-gender sport. It has an equal number of male and female members in each team, i.e. four each. “There is no single gender Korfball at all, so it is very unique and very modern it that sense,” added James

It was designed by a Dutch schoolteacher, Nico Broekhuysen, in 1902. The first korfball club in Wales was started in 1992, now the city has four clubs. In Wales, there are clubs in Aberystwyth, New port, Swansea as well.

“We will continue to work with the Cardiff City Korfball team to find them a suitable alternative venue where they can develop a permanent base,” said the council’s spokesperson.

According to Mr. Wilcox, regardless of this statement, the council has failed to reach out to them. It was only on Tuesday when the dialogue with them started. The club is hoping to find a solution to this issue soon.

Find the petition here.

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