Squash players are sceptical that they’ll still be able to use the only courts in the borough if plans to hand St Crispin’s Leisure Centre to an academy trust go ahead.

Wokingham Borough Council could hand the centre to St Crispin’s school so that it can take on more pupils. Plans say that Circle Trust – which runs the school – would still allow the public to use the squash courts and other facilities out of school hours.

But some squash players have said they’ve been told almost nothing about how the plans would work – including when they’d be allowed to play or how the courts would be managed.

One squash player, Nick Dyer, told the News: “There’s no understanding about the logistics of their proposal of running a sports facility and how the school will do it. There’s no details on the bones about how they will do that.”

READ MORE: St Crispin’s Leisure Centre could be given to school in Wokingham

The council says the number of people using the leisure centre has fallen since the pandemic, while the number of pupils who need to attend St Crispin’s is set to rise. It says if the school doesn’t expand, the borough could face a shortage of places for pupils in the near future.

But the plans were challenged by councillors at a scrutiny meeting on Tuesday, November 14.

Councillor Prue Bray – responsible for schools – said the handover is necessary to make sure St Crispin’s School could take on extra pupils. But she said Circle Trust was committed to keeping services open to residents.

She said: “There is the ability to provide at least some of what is currently offered in the centre while also enabling us to get these secondary school places we really need. It’s not a complete loss. It’s actually a balancing act.”

But councillor Marie-Louise Weighill said that the plans were a “service cut” that would affect many more centre users who might not want to move to Carnival Hub in Wokingham town centre.

She said: “It’s not simply squash players, it is also older vulnerable and not so vulnerable users of the SHINE exercise classes for example. They will not go to the Carnival Pool. I’ve talked to them – they will not go.”

Councillor Pauline Jorgensen wanted to know why the centre should be handed over to The Circle Trust rather than kept in council hands and leased out.

And she demanded a more detailed report on how Circle Trust will keep the centre open to residents. Councillors in the scrutiny meeting voted to support her by five to four.

It means officers will have to provide them with more details at a meeting on November 28. The leading group of councillors – the executive committee – is then set to make a final decision on November 30.