Hundreds of people have signed a petition in opposition to the rebranding of Wisbech’s Hudson Leisure Centre.
The name of the centre has been changed to the New Vision Leisure Centre, angering local people who do not want it changed.
Local councillors Michael and Virginia Bucknor were in the town centre collecting signatures on Saturday and said they were overwhelmed by the response.
“It was phenomenal,” Mrs Bucknor said. “People were just beelining for us. We had people come out just to sign the petition, which was quite humbling.
“We have had phone messages, calls morning and evening about this. So many people want to express how they feel about this and the petition is a way of doing that.”
The furore to the name change started online, on the Wisbech Pictures Old and New Facebook page. People were unaware the change was happening and have berated Fenland District Council over the decision.
Mrs Bucknor has put a motion to Fenland council calling for a compromise and will also be motioning Wisbech Town Council to ask for their support.
“This is a very emotional thing for people,” she said. “This is a historic town and people don’t want to see things airbrushed out. While doing this petition, we have heard so many stories about Alan Hudson, like how he used to walk his dog there.”
Mrs Bucknor would like to see the name Hudson retained, as the building would not have existed without his generosity, so they are suggesting the name is altered to become the Hudson New Vision.
She added: “They want to put a plaque outside saying ‘The Hudson’ but to me, that’s not enough.”
Mrs Bucknor urged people to speak to their local councillors to find out their views on the name change and show their support that way.
County councillor Paul Clapp said he fully supports the Bucknors and said: “The council is not listening to Wisbech people. How dare they try and take what little bit of identity we have left?”
Town councillor Steve Tierney waded into the debate on his website and on Friday wrote a blog entry on the Hudson’s name change.
He said the rebranding did not cost as much as what some people believe, with £50,000 split between the four Fenland leisure centres. This money was used to refurbish the centres as well. He also said that thanks to Wisbech Mayor Sam Hoy, a display about Alan Hudson will be included inside.
He added that it didn’t matter about “corporate branding” as people would still continue to call it the Hudson.