Fury over ‘creche to call centre’ change

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A mum-of-twins has reacted with fury to the news that the creche in Hemel Hempstead’s Sportspace will close on Friday to be replaced by a call centre.

Its owners say the only alternative would have been to make cuts to the centre’s other leisure facilities or raise the cost of using them.

But Fiona Boyle of Bayley Mead, Boxmoor, said: “Sportspace is a charity and one of the objectives of the charity is to promote health and fitness in the community. A creche is an integral part of that service.

“The staff who work there are very experienced and it seems ridiculous to me to turn it into a call centre, because a call centre could be anywhere really.”

The creche was revamped as part of a £5m refurbishment at Sportspace Hemel Hempstead 14 years ago. It now has its own kitchen, garden, children’s toilets and baby-changing facilities.

Mrs Boyle said: “If you desecrate this space, the community will never get it back, because it will be too expensive to replace.”

She said a creche has been at the site for 35 years and has four staff who have each worked there for at least 20 years.

Many mums will now be unable to exercise due to a lack of affordable child-minders, she said.

The decision to close the creche was made a year ago, at the same time as the closure of the creche in Berkhamsted Sportspace.

Sportspace spokesman Elise Hyslop said: “The decision was not taken lightly and was discussed at length by our board of trustees.

“Naturally we have to be very careful with the public money we receive from Dacorum Borough Council and every year we work hard to reduce the annual grant.

“At the same time, we are investing heavily in the equipment, facilities, coaching and so on, which we make available to the community.

“The creches were a heavily subsidised area of the business and the customers who used them were not paying anything like the actual cost of providing the quality of child-care involved.”