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Church accuses Hertsmere Leisure of 'threatening' behaviour over booking at Three Ways Community Centre in Borehamwood
A pastor has accused Hertsmere Leisure of “threatening” behaviour towards her congregation after it cancelled her booking to use a community centre for a special service.
Pastor Chika Amadi claims members of the Goodnews Ministries International Church were turned away from Three Ways Community Centre in Arundel Road last Saturday by men who later followed them.
The church, which had been using the hall since March, had arranged a special service of healing to pray for the sick and help young people, addicts and broken families.
However Hertsmere Leisure, which runs the hall, cancelled it the day before as the church’s pastor could not afford to pay £525 owed for the period from May to September.
Area manager for Hertsmere Leisure Mark Young said the church had failed to pay, despite repeated requests, meaning he had no choice but to cancel the booking.
He added: "Hertsmere Leisure has been very understanding in this matter and after listening to the customer granted them a significant amount of time to make the payment."
Pastor Amadi has acknowledged Hertsmere Leisure had a right to lock her out, even though she had paid a deposit and promised to settle the bill the following Monday, had advertised it widely and had arranged a speaker to come from Ireland.
However she objects to the way the organisation handled her and the guests who had turned up to attend the service.
When she arrived at Three Ways community centre to tell people the service was taking place in nearby Ripon Park, she claims Mr Young was “parading” outside the hall with four other men.
Pastor Amadi said: “They were worse than the bailiffs.
"They were turning away guests instead of directing them to the park where we were.
“They stayed there all through the service then followed us home, two of them driving ahead and two behind in an intimidating manner.
“It was unacceptable for them to behave in such a threatening manner. It caused great distress to myself, the children in the congregation and our special guest.
“Now we have lost our place of worship and the children are scared of coming near that centre and park."
However Mr Young asserts he had gone down to Three Ways Community Centre with one other colleague just in case the church was able to pay the booking and the service could go ahead.
At no time did he approach any of the congregation or talk to them.
He asserts Hertsmere Leisure had been justified in cancelling the booking and denies he or his colleagues acted threateningly.
Mr Young said: “We are a charity and a not for profit organisation but, to continue to reinvest in services and offer facilities for the whole community, we must operate as a business and ensure that customers pay their bills.
“I informed the customer that I would be at the Centre on Saturday 7 September and was there with one other colleague to allow them to use the hall if payment was made.
“I am satisfied that we operated in a professional manner throughout our dealings with the customer.”
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