MINI martial artists have been left devastated by the impending closure of their group because it has nowhere left to meet.
Stag Lane Taekwondo Club has rented space at Stag Lane Junior School, in Collier Drive, Edgware, for weekly practice sessions for children and adults from 6.30pm to 8.30pm on a Wednesday for the past 34 years.
However, the forthcoming class will be the last because the school chose not to renew the club’s long term booking for the next academic year.
Club founder and Grand Master Lindsay Lawrence said: “The children were very disappointed. They couldn’t believe it.
“The reason I have been given by the school, which is still a little bit unclear, is down to a cut in funding that means they can’t manage the fuel costs and want to close the school after 6pm.
“The parents are saying if it’s just a matter of money, they would be happy to pay more.
“I’m looking for an alternative venue but it’s difficult, as you can imagine, to find somewhere close enough when the schools are closing for the summer.”
The two-time European taekwondo champion, who helped establish the Olympic sport’s British governing body, added: “The kids love the training and I love teaching the kids. They come in shy and nervous and leave confident and full of energy.”
Parents are petitioning for a U-turn from the school’s governing body, which includes councillor Nizam Ismail (Independent Labour), the council’s portfolio holder for community and culture.
Bharti Kara, of Radley Gardens, Kenton, said: “My five-year-old daughter Nikisha is very upset because she looks forward to going every week and has met lots of other kids her own age, so the decision is a big disappointment.
“The kids don’t really need heating because they’re jumping up and down and doing all sorts of moves.”
A spokesman for Stag Lane Infant and Stag Lane Junior School said: “Following an on-going dialogue with the Taekwondo club, starting in December 2012, the schools decided, with the full support of the governing body, that they were unable to continue with the present arrangements on school premises beyond the life of the current contract, which concludes at the end of the summer term. There is a cost implication to the schools in terms of the additional staffing, cleaning and heating expenses which are incurred.”
Harrow Council said since caretakers’ voluntary overtime pay was reduced from an enhanced rate to their usual hourly rate, as part of changes made by the council, headteachers and other staff members at the school had been staying late to facilitate the classes.