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Swimmer 'stunned' at ban from New Barnet LA Fitness after complaining about faulty pool
A keen swimmer has been banned from his local swimming pool for publicly complaining that it was regularly closed.
Terry Messenger, of Hertford Road, was left "stunned" at being barred from New Barnet LA Fitness after he went to the Times Series about the recurring problem last week.
The East Barnet Road swimming pool has been shut on several occasions over the past six months due to a faulty heater.
Father-of-three Mr Messenger, who uses the pool four times a week, had argued members should be given some sort of refund on their “expensive” monthly fees when facilities were unavailable.
But the national gym chain refused and this week cancelled the 56-year-old’s membership for speaking out on the issue.
Mr Messenger said: “I was stunned. I think I had a legitimate grievance. The press is vital in raising issues of public importance, but at the merest hint of criticism LA Fitness has expelled me – it goes against the values of free speech.”
A survey conducted online by the Times Series last week found 95 per cent of readers agreed with Mr Messenger that members should receive a partial compensation when facilities were broken.
But, at the end of last week, the television producer received a letter from head of member services Neil Hodgon stating that his contract at the gym had been cancelled.
The letter also contained a cheque for the remainder of his membership.
It read: “(You) have expressed your frustrations both in the local press and to the team at the club. We clearly cannot meet your expectations and you remain unhappy.
“To enable you to try alternative facilities that may meet your expectations, please find enclosed a cheque. Your membership has lapsed from today.”
Mr Messenger says he feels ostracised by the gym for voicing the concerns of many other members.
He said: “Everyone in the locker rooms was talking about it – I was not alone in my grievance. I was not really even expecting any compensation, I just was fed up the pool was regularly closed.
“What they’re saying is, ‘you have no right to complain’ – it is absolutely outrageous. In Barnet, the council is looking to privatise a lot and, if this is how the private sector operates, the future looks bleak.”
The Times Series has requested further comment from LA Fitness and will be calling on the gym to reinstate Mr Messenger’s membership.