GALLERY: Campaign gathers strength to have Hudson re-inserted into Wisbech leisure centre’s name

11:54 03 February 2014

Wisbech petition protest against Hudson leisure centre name change. Georgie Constable signing Roger Rawsons  petition.

Wisbech petition protest against Hudson leisure centre name change. Georgie Constable signing Roger Rawsons petition.

Archant

Hundreds of people have signed a petition demanding a council re-considers its decision to remove references to a popular town figure in the name of a leisure centre.

Wisbech petition protest against Hudson leisure centre name changeWisbech petition protest against Hudson leisure centre name change

Residents were angered when The Hudson Leisure Centre in Wisbech, which is run by Fenland District Council, was re-named New Vision last month.

Farmer Alan Hudson donated land for the leisure centre to be built in 1971.

Wisbech councillor Virginia Bucknor has submitted motions to Wisbech Town Council and Fenland District Council to have the Wisbech centre renamed as Hudson New Vision Fitness.

She was in Wisbech Market Place collecting signatures on Saturday.

She said: “It was amazing. We have got hundreds of signatures.

“Normally with petitions you have to approach people but in this case people were coming up to us.

“There were a couple of ladies and a gentleman in wheelchairs who came up to us and said they really wanted to make sure they signed up.

“People wanted to tell us stories about what Alan Hudson did for individual people, not just the community as a whole.

“My phone’s been ringing constantly with people asking us to include them in the petition.

“People feel very passionately about this. They are very angry. I’ve never experienced this strength of feeling from people in Wisbech.”

About 200 people have had their say on the renaming on the Facebook page Wisbech Pictures Old and New and the change has prompted derision on another Facebook page, Wisbech... Oh Dear.

One poster to the Wisbech... Oh Dear Facebook page, Andrew Clifton, said: “I can’t believe it (Fenland Council) has changed the name without any consultation. Wisbech relies on its heritage and this is lunacy.

“What’s next? Change Peckover House? And how much did it cost? Money that could have been spent on the inside of the building.”

The re-branding was approved at a Fenland cabinet meeting on August 23 last year.

An extra £50,000 was allocated to the 2013/4 leisure services budget to carry out the changes.

The George Campbell Leisure Centre in March, Chatteris Leisure and the Manor Leisure Centre in Whittlesey have also been renamed New Vision Fitness.

Cllr Bucknor urged people to attend the Wisbech Town Council meeting on Monday, where she will speak to councillors about the issue.

She said: “I’m going to speak to the town council on Monday to try and get the support of town councillors.

“We need people to come along to support the campaign. Signing the petition helps but on its own it will not be enough. If you are angry, you need to call up your councillor and put that strength of feeling forward.”

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