THERE’S a new twist to the long-running saga in which pensioner Jim Gillan was banned from Huddersfield Sports Centre.
And for Jim, from Beaumont Park, the recent turn of events is proof that he’s been right all along in his three-year-long battle with Kirklees Active Leisure (KAL).
Jim, 62, was banned from Huddersfield Sports Centre for repeatedly complaining about loud music from exercise classes at the other side of the sports hall making it difficult to hear calls and avoid dangerous clashes between badminton players and racquets.
But now fellow badminton player Keith Webb has had four stitches after being hit in the face with a racquet.
And for Jim it’s a clear case of ‘I hate to say I told you so.’
He told the Examiner: “From very early on we told KAL that we feared that excessive noise would mask warning calls and that this increased the likelihood of an accident.
“Four stitches sounds pretty trivial, but had he sustained a direct hit on his eye the matter would probably have been much more serious.”
A spokesman for KAL said they were sorry to hear about the incident, but it was nothing to do with music in the sports hall being too loud.
He said: “Obviously all sport carries with it an inherent risk of injury and accidents do happen from time to time.
“The accident was not witnessed by KAL staff however. A full accident report was completed. We can confirm that the injury was not reported to have happened due to the music in the sports hall being too loud.
“And Huddersfield Sports Centre has never previously received any allegations that accidents have occurred due to music being too loud.”
KAL say that Jim has exhausted all avenues of the complaints procedure and that they have dealt with all his queries fairly and robustly.
They allege that Jim’s complaining became “unreasonably persistent and vexatious” and have previously banned him from the sports centre.
But Jim still believes he is correct, and has vowed not to give up complaining.
The former local government chief officer, said: “However artful KAL’s spin on the incident might be, the key fact is that KAL has a legal duty to deliver services that are fit for purpose – which, for badminton, incontestably means that players must be able to hear warning calls.
“It’s certainly true that accidents can happen, but it’s obvious that they are more likely if it is noisy.”
KAL said that the Monday badminton group had expressed their concerns about not hearing calls a few years ago and at the time they had been offered a number of alternative times and venues where they could practice in an unshared hall if they preferred.
The service provider – which runs Huddersfield Sports Centre and 10 other sports centres in the borough – say the offer is still open.
Jim, whose wife Ros still plays badminton at Huddersfield Sports Centre, said: “It’s all very well saying that but they haven’t actually come up with anything – where are the specifics?
“If they wanted to solve this problem they could do quite easily.”