Preston gym owner who refused to close during lockdown 'put public health at risk', says council
Preston City Council has issued a statement after a gym owner lost his appeal against a compulsory three month closure order.
Steven Todd, who deliberately flouted Government rules in order to keep his gym open, lost an appeal against a compulsory three month closure order yesterday (April 20).
Reps Gym must now remain closed until May 4 despite the relaxation of coronavirus regulations on April 12.
Today (April 21), Preston City Council issued a statement regarding the situation.
Ally Brown, Director of Environment and Communities at Preston City Council, said: "Throughout the pandemic we have worked closely with businesses to help them understand changes to regulations and the adjustments they have needed to make to comply with restrictions and protect the public.
"Our Environmental Health team tried to work with Mr. Todd to explain legislation and the requirement for gyms to close. Unfortunately he chose not to comply with the law and continued to operate when gyms were required to close, putting public health at risk. As such we took legal action to close the premises.
"At his recent appeal Mr. Todd was advised by the court that an application can be made to lift the closure order on Reps Gym now that gyms are permitted to reopen in a COVID secure way. We have had no further contact from Mr. Todd or his representatives."
Gyms across England were shut in November 2020 to help limit the spread of coronavirus, but Steven Todd continued defying the rules, claiming it was important for people’s mental health.
Following several appearances at Preston Magistrates’ Court, a district judge imposed the three month closure in February 2021.
The 55-year-old, from Longridge, says he now has "nothing to lose" and plans to appeal the decision again at the High Court.
He said: "They still wont let me open and are keeping the order in place until May 4. The council says grant wise they wont give me a single penny.
"The costs will end up pushing me into bankruptcy but I’ve got to keep fighting. I wanted to clear my name.
"I’ve lost all faith with the country. These are young, fit people below the age of 40. The chances of them dying are virtually minimal. But many men that age are hanging themselves through depression instead."
People had travelled from as far as Liverpool to use his facilities during lockdown.
The authority cited serious public nuisance caused by opening the gym, likely disorder and criminal behaviour, but Todd argued the council's response was "disproportionate and heavy handed".
Judge Simon Medland QC, sitting with two magistrates, dismissed Mr Todd's case.
Mr Todd is back before the courts in July for defying a council notice and says he will "probably go to prison" on that occasion.
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