A member of Scorpion Squash Club is claiming that Wiltshire Council’s decision to close the Warminster squash courts is “corrupt”, after he says he was excluded from a meeting on the topic.

Steve Howe is one of the players fighting to keep the courts open after the council informed the community of its decision to permanently close them in March.

He claims that the public has been “misled” through the figures used in the decision-making process and condemns the lack of public consultation on the topic.

Wiltshire Council has determined that the closure is a necessary step to make room for the planned improvements to Warminster Sports Centre, which include making it more accessible, refurbishing the existing studios, and creating a consultation room.

The council has described itself as “bucking the national trend” through its £10.6m investment for leisure improvements within its capital budget.

Refurbishment work is already underway at a number of centres across the county.

Despite this, Cllr Tony Jackson previously claimed that closing the squash courts at Warminster Sports Centre was a “waste of public money.”

Mr Howe has argued Wiltshire Council could make the required improvements to the centre without getting rid of the squash courts.

He said: “They’re spending taxpayers’ money and, knowing full well there is a club running there, to not be consulted feels very demoralising.

“People would think they’re going to be doing the changing rooms that are really in a bad place, and they’re not.

“They’re really investing the money in the wrong place.”

He added: “The amount of youngsters coming through playing squash is increasing and squash has now become an Olympic sport.”

Mr Howe believes the council has not been transparent and has questioned why he was not allowed to attend the most recent meeting on the subject between Cllr Ian-Blair Pilling and MP Andrew Murrison.

Mr Howe had the opportunity to meet Cllr Ian Blair-Pilling at a previous meeting but has said that further information has since come to light.

For example, he notes that the latent demand figures used by the council in the decision were provided by Pulse, a company that supplies them with gym equipment.

Cllr Ian Blair-Pilling has responded that the company was chosen after a “rigorous procurement exercise” and that the figures are “robust.”

He said: “We have been clear on our plans and reasoning.

“Our decisions on this project are well informed and based on evidence.

“There is no legal requirement to consult on this decision and I do not accept that we have given misleading information.

“I strongly refute the suggestions that our decision making on this project has been anything other than well informed by the clear data and information we have available.

“We are committed to improving the health and wellbeing of as much of the Warminster community as possible, and the works we are planning at the sports centre will do that.

“Our information shows we don’t have many regular squash players, and that the courts are under-used and not financially viable.

“There are squash facilities available just a few miles away at Leighton Recreation Centre, where existing memberships related to squash will be useable. 

“Our focus with this investment is the health and wellbeing of the community, making our facilities more accessible and attractive to more people and in turn improving financial sustainability.”

Cllr Blair-Pilling added that he was “happy to consider any specific request for a meeting” to discuss the plans in “a productive way."