Popular judo club in Wembley threatened with closure

Club at Chalkhill Community Centre could be forced to look for a new home

A popular judo club in Wembley is threatened with closure after a dispute between its instructor and the community centre which hosts it.

Lionel Hibbert, 48, a former British judo champion who runs the Pride Judo Club in Chalkhill Community Centre (CCC), will have to find a new venue for his much-loved sessions after being served a two weeks notice.

Mr Hibbert said that his club never received much support from the management of the centre, or appreciation of what it was bringing to the community.

He said: “I gave up a year of my life to get judo into the Brent area. It teaches children discipline, self-control, and concentration.”

Some of Mr Hibbert’s students have behavioural and attention deficit problems, but he says that regular practice of judo helps them channel their extra energy into achieving something positive.

However, CCC claims that Mr Hibbert often missed payments, left locker rooms messy, and that sessions overran into other users’ time, prompting several complaints.

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The club coaches about 25 youngsters aged five and over, 10 of them girls, and it also runs classes for adults.

Mr Hibbert has met with the MP for Brent North Barry Gardiner, who promised his support in finding a new venue for the club.

Mr Gardiner said: “Lionel does a superb job with a number of youngsters and adults, and runs a valued club in the area. It is clear to me that there have been a number of issues on both sides, but rather than portion blame, we should make sure that he can continue to do a great job.”