THE owners of a private training facility have hit out at the authorities after a closure notice was served following allegations that they were persistently breaking lockdown rules.

Trojan Fitness, in Darlington, was set up during the start of the first lockdown to give the owners, one of whom is a professional boxer, a private space to train and maintain athletic fitness levels.

However, due to repeat calls to the police from neighbouring properties, the building has today been served a closure notice from Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court and must stay closed until lockdown rules allow gyms to re-open.

One of the owners said: “This gym has never been a commercial gym, we have never traded and we have never made any money from it.

“It was set up to enable us, four brothers, to continue to train. You can see straight away that this is not a commercial set-up, it’s like a gym you would see in a garage.

“The police and the council turned up here, about seven of them, claiming the building was insecure yet they had to use a crow bar to gain entry?

“Why is it ok for seven of them to enter the building all at once, breaking lockdown rules, yet it is not ok for me to train here on my own?

“We have been harassed and bullied for months. The gym for us isn’t just about physical exercise it’s about keeping ourselves fit mentally.

“How much of taxpayer money has been spent getting this to court and for what? All gyms reopen in two weeks anyway.”

Chief Inspector Chris Knox, from Darlington Police, said: “We received multiple calls from concerned members of the public who believed people were still training in the gym during lockdown and risking the spread of Covid-19.

“Officers attended the premises in response to these concerns and made efforts to encourage the owners to change their behaviour, which was ignored.

“We have always taken a fair, sensible, and proportionate approach to policing the pandemic.

“But if people refuse to engage with us, refuse to listen and persistently break the rules they need to understand that we will move to enforcement, like we have seen in this case.”

Graham Hall, Head of Community Safety at Darlington Borough Council, said: “Since the start of lockdown, we have received multiple reports of members of the public continuing to use Trojan Gym, despite the Covid-19 safety restrictions and associated legislation in place.

“In response to these reports, we issued several fixed penalty notices to the owners of the gym, as well as to any members of the public who were found to be using the gym’s facilities.

“At this time, we also made it clear that any further action required would result in the closure of the gym.

“The Council and its partners are committed to the health and safety of Darlington residents. The appropriate enforcement, resulting in the closure of the gym, was taken to protect our communities.”