Your local Marylebone Councillors, Barbara Aryzmanow, Ian Rowley and Karen Scarborough are delighted that the Labour-led Council has listened to local people and has made a U-turn on an application for over 50 showings, in 11 weeks next year, of “Rumble in the Jungle Rematch” at the Seymour Leisure Centre.
Your Councillors held meetings, exchanged several emails and submitted a strong objection for an alcohol licence. Following a determined effort from your Councillors the licensing application has been withdrawn and the scheduled events will now not occur.
The showings of the film, about the Muhammad Ali/Joe Frasier fight in 1974, included a relentless timetable of nightly party-style events for boxing fans. Each show was advertised to last four hours with alcohol, food, live music and dance parties.
We recognised the merits of this event but we felt our leisure centre was the wrong location for this event because:
• Seymour Leisure Centres is surrounded by residential housing on all four sides, namely Seymour Place/Clarewood Court, Shouldham Street, Macready House and Sherwood Court.
• Local people have a right to live in peace and quiet and enjoyment of their own homes without excessive disturbance. Rest and sleep are a high priority. This location is friendly residential neighbourhood and not suited to crowds leaving the venue late at night, having consumed alcohol.
• Seymour Leisure Centre, by the nature of its glass walls and roof, is not designed to contain noise. This point has already been acknowledged by the Everyone Active team and Westminster City Council when the company took over management. At the time, it was agreed that boxing would continue at Porchester Centre only – this event is not live boxing event but aims to recreate the atmosphere and mood of a live event and so is directly comparable.
• Activities in the Sports Hall would have been moved to Fisherton Street, a 15-minute walk away for the duration of this event. Although the use of the gym and pool facilities at Seymour Leisure Centre would have remained open, there was a serious risk of disruption to the usage for Centre’s diverse community of users.
• Provision of Leisure facilities must be prioritised for our residents many of whom are very dependent on the facility to keep fit for a whole host of reasons including mental health management, weight management and general good health which will help protect our NHS for the long term.
• It is inappropriate to deny access to sporting facilities while giving priority to an alcohol-serving licensed event.
The whole event was not thought through. For example, the website is still showing tickets are available for www.RumbleInTheJungleRematch.com at Seymour Leisure Centre. The event webpages continue to state Yes, there will be bars and street food options available throughout the experience, even though a licence has not been received.
If successful this would be “the thin edge of the wedge” and set a precedent for misuse of other sporting and leisure facilities across the whole of Westminster.