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Herne Bay table tennis club 'could be made homeless' if toilet block flattened

Bosses from a decades-old sports club are railing against calls to flatten a toilet block – amid fears it could leave them homeless.

KentOnline reported last week that councillors are hoping the proposed closure of the Hampton Pleasure Ground toilets in Herne Bay could pave the way for the building to be flattened and replaced with a café.

Herne Bay table tennis club chairman Colin Chaston (pictured back left) with its stroke rehabilitation group
Herne Bay table tennis club chairman Colin Chaston (pictured back left) with its stroke rehabilitation group

But members of the town’s table tennis club fear such a scheme would leave it homeless, as it has been based behind the facilities for the last 32 years.

Chairman Colin Chaston says the society – which has 180 players on its books ranging in age from six to 90 – was “stirred up” by the suggestions the site should be knocked down.

“It’s not just a toilet block; it’s also a social hub. There’s a lot of people who go to the club who view it as a lifeline,” he explained.

“We’ve got table tennis players who use our facilities every night, we’ve got juniors who come for coaching, we’ve got four over-60s sessions and a stroke unit who come for an hour a week.

“At least 400 people walk through our doors each month. If it’s redeveloped, what are we going to do with these people? We could be [made homeless].

The Hampton Pleasure Ground toilets on Herne Bay seafront
The Hampton Pleasure Ground toilets on Herne Bay seafront

“A surveyor came to our club recently and said it was like a tardis – it’s so clean, tidy and large.”

Mr Chaston also says the club has invested more than £10,000 to renovate its part of the building and update its facilities over the last three years.

Canterbury City Council was given the go-ahead to launch a consultation into the planned closure of the loos – which cost more than £13,600 to run – last month.

Documents published by the local authority state the building is “in very poor condition” and that its closure would help it make much-needed cuts ahead of the next financial year.

And Tankerton councillor Neil Baker thinks a “glass-fronted” café should be erected in its place, in order to draw more visitors to the town.

Tankerton councillor Neil Baker
Tankerton councillor Neil Baker

“It would help rejuvenate the area for residents and visitors to have an attractive offering for all,” the Tory said this week.

“The table tennis club is clearly doing a lot of good for the community – nobody’s talking about booting out an established club.

“With all the work they’re doing, you wouldn’t want to lose that.

“I’m sure there’s something that can be arranged that ensures the wellbeing of the club and also makes the most of that site for everybody.”

Over the past seven days, a petition has been launched to “save” the table tennis club. It has received more than 650 signatures in that time.

Organiser Steve Morton describes the club as a “hidden gem” providing a “community space for both young and old”.

Responding to the concern raised, city council spokesman Rob Davies said: “The decision to move to consultation affects the toilets only.

“While we are aware there has been talk about possible alternative uses of the building in the long term, there are no current plans that affect the table tennis club’s lease.”

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