PARENTS have thanked a club for stepping in after students lost use of a university’s sports hall.

Independent Living Skills (ILS) students, based at the Northop campus of Coleg Cambria, share the sports hall at the Glyndwr University site next door.

But as previously reported in the Leader, parents were horrified to discover changes were being made at the sports facility to transform it into new teaching space.

Now work has begun, Mold Rugby Club has stepped in to allow ILS students, which caters for students with additional needs, to use their facilities.

Aled Ellis, director of sport and facilities, said: “After hearing the news that the Coleg Cambria Independent Living Skills learners had lost access to the sports facilities at Northop we didn’t hesitate to offer our facilities.

“These young people are passionate about sport and to hear that those opportunities had been taken away was a shock to us.

“We welcomed Coleg Cambria, Pettypool College and Derwent College to the club last week and they enjoyed a great afternoon of sport. Well done to all who took part and we look forward to seeing more of the learners over the coming months.

“Mold RFC are a registered charity. Whilst our primary focus is to provide the best experience and opportunities to our members, we also aim to support the wider community and would welcome the opportunity to develop partnerships with other local organisations.”

Work has started on the university’s sports hall to create teaching space for animal based courses at Northop.

Cllr Gillian Brockley’s son is an ILS student.

She said: “Glyndwr have said that they will allow the college to use half of the sports hall, which will be about half the size of a netball pitch. This size of space is not enough for the ILS students who need a lot more space to move around during sports activities.

“The sports programme that the staff have for their ILS students, using the sports hall, has had such a positive impact on the ILS students - they are calmer, happier, more active and getting healthy - it is positively impacting on their health and wellbeing.

“I hope that we can halt this building work and that Glyndwr can find alternate space to build the room instead of the desperately needed space for our additional needs students.

“This has and will really effect the ILS students. Mold rugby club were fantastic to step in to help and that is much appreciated, but it isn’t ideal or appropriate, in many cases, to be taking the students off site all the time or sports lessons.

“It is the additional needs students that will really suffer if this building work goes ahead - without any agreement from the ILS staff.

“I think Glyndwr are acting appallingly. It seems that they haven’t considered the health, wellbeing, impact on behaviour and happiness of the students at all.”

A spokesman for Glyndwr University said: “Coleg Cambria were always aware of our plans for the sports hall and we advised them our change of use plans would be progressing several months ago.

“We’re sorry that the affected parents feel this way, however all communication with ILS and their parents is via Coleg Cambria and Wrexham Glyndwr University is not in a position to communicate directly with them.

“We did offer to issue a note to Coleg Cambria clarifying the situation - which they could have passed on to their learners and their families - and we would still be happy to do this, but again this offer has not been taken up so it would be unfair to hold us accountable for any lack of communication regarding this.

“We appreciate this is causing disruption for these young people – and we supported Coleg Cambria with the identification of suitable alternative premises for the duration of the conversion works, including offering use of our facilities in Wrexham. Once the works have completed in November, ILS can continue to use part of the space as normal, as was always the plan and this has been communicated to Coleg Cambria.”

A Coleg Cambria spokesman previously told the Leader the welfare of students is at the ‘heart’ of every decision and they were ‘disappointed and surprised with this announcement’.

They added: “There has been no consultation, despite us being in partnership on the Northop site for more than a decade.

“We hope the final decision reflects the needs of the many learners who use this facility, and the community it serves.”