Town wins more time for sports centre fight

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COMMUNITY leaders fighting to save their leisure centre from closure under council cuts have been given extra time to try and find a new way of funding the venue.

Sheffield Council had planned to stop funding Stocksbridge Leisure Centre in March after claiming that it was costing council taxpayers £400,000 a year to run.

The move sparked a massive protest led by Stocksbridge Town Council, which has now been given until April to find an “alternative solution” to keep it open.

Council leaders in Sheffield have agreed to give the local community opposed to the proposal to close Stocksbridge Leisure Centre three months to find an alternative solution to keep it open.

But yesterday, Sheffield Council’s leisure spokesman said Government cuts meant that city support must be withdrawn from the venue in April.

She said Stocksbridge was a costly centre to run because of its size and age and its relatively low and falling visitor numbers, but added: “We want to help the Town Council explore options.

“No one wants to see services close or have funding withdrawn but we have been put in the unpalatable position of having less money from Government year on year since 2010.

“We are offering to keep the centre open until the end of April to give more time and will make officer resources of the council available to support the Town Council in developing a plan.

“However, we have to be clear that if no sustainable solution is found before the deadline of the end of April to fund the centre, we will sadly not be able to subsidise it any further.

“We hope the town council and local community will accept our offer of help and press ahead with finding a solution that can work for them, the local community and the future of the site,” she added.

Sport England has been contacted and said it is prepared to work with the community to advise on solutions.