Campaigners fight on to keep doors open at doomed leisure centre

PROTESTERS campaigning against the proposed closure of an “unsustainable” leisure centre took to the streets of Sheffield yesterday prior to a key council meeting.

Those against plans to shut Stocksbridge Leisure Centre, on the northern edge of the city, demonstrated in the Peace Gardens before a full meeting of Sheffield Council at which the controversial closure was discussed.

The local authority is planning to shut the leisure centre as it currently costs the council tax payer around £400,000 a year in public subsidy.

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Leading councillors say the outlay cannot be justified while Sheffield Council is making savings of £50m, and the centre is “unsustainable”.

Coun Alison Brelsford, who is backing the campaign against closure, said yesterday: “Stocksbridge is a unique and isolated area.

“Closing our leisure would have a devastating impact on the community.

“Labour councillors claim they haven’t got the money to keep our centre open but continue to waste funds on highly-paid consultants and Town Hall refurbishments.

“Local people have been let down.”

Back in January, Sheffield Council said it would give people in Stocksbridge an extra month to come up with a solution to keep the doors open, but closure still looms at the end of April.

Closing Stocksbridge Leisure Centre is part of wider plans to review leisure facilities in the city.

Swimming timetables at Heeley Baths and at Graves Tennis and Leisure Centre could be slashed during the week as managers examine ways of making savings and generating extra income.

More swimming lessons and private hire are being considered, although customers are being told no changes will be made until public consultation ends on Sunday, April 14.

Sheffield Council is also planning a replacement pool in the north of the city, in order to provide leisure facilities when Stocksbridge closes.