A PENSIONER has been banned from Huddersfield sports centres – because he complained about noise.
Jim Gillan persistently complained about loud music disturbing his game of badminton but has now been handed a six-month ban from centres across Kirklees.
Mr Gillan, of Beaumont Park, claims he’s been treated like a “drunken yob who has wreaked havoc” in the sports hall – not a long-standing customer with a genuine concern.
He and a dozen other players meet up every Monday evening to play badminton at Huddersfield Sports Centre but are put off by music exercise classes going on at the same time.
The 61-year-old claims the music played on a stereo system means it’s difficult for the badminton players to hear calls and avoid clashes between players and racquets.
But Kirklees Active Leisure, which runs Huddersfield Sports Centre and 10 other centres in the borough, say the complaint has already been fully investigated and Mr Gillan was warned if he contacted them about it again he’d be banned.
He claims KAL is being “disproportionate” and it is KAL’s attempt to “shut him up”.
He said: “I’m offended that as a 61-year-old former local government chief officer I’m being treated as though I’m some drunken yob that’s come in and wreaked havoc in the sports centre.
“Which might be fine if I had threatened anybody, used offensive language or behaved like a hooligan.
“I am a long-standing customer with a very serious concern – one that some 30 months on remains unresolved.
“I believed it could be solved amicably and effectively but rather than take up an offer of working with all stakeholders to bring about a win-win outcome, I was banned for six months.”
Alasdair Brown, chief executive of KAL, said they had made the move to ban Mr Gillan because his complaints had become “unreasonably persistent and vexatious”.
He said KAL had written to Mr Gillan to warn him that if he continued to contact them about it he would be banned.
Mr Brown said: “I don’t think we were left with any other option but to ban him from the facilities.We have now put that ban into place for six months.”
Mr Brown said Mr Gillan’s complaint had been thoroughly investigated and officials had offered a different time slot to the badminton players but had been refused. They had also taken steps to reduce the volume from the exercise class stereo.
He said the complaint had also been considered by the Local Government Ombudsman and it would be a “waste of charitable resources” to continue investigating the issue any further.
Mr Gillan, whose wife Ros also plays badminton at the centre, is now appealing his ban and KAL has called on three independent trustees to consider the issue.
Mr Gillan – who has a hearing disability following a motorbike crash – says to him the noise is “as much a barrier to participation as stairs are to a wheelchair user”.
He said: “They could say why can’t you go somewhere else but that’s like saying to a wheelchair user sorry you can’t come in because we don’t have a ramp.
He said: “I know when I’m being treated inappropriately.
“And I’m not going to put up with it – no way at all.
“My ‘crime’ has been to try to find out why KAL schedules two completely incompatible activities alongside one another and what it does to ensure that all customers are treated equally and not put at risk”.