‘This is not a done deal’ - Batley and Spen MP optimistic on future of sports centre
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The meeting, held in the centre’s sports hall on Friday, October 27, also heard from the Kirklees Council cabinet member for Finance and Regeneration, Graham Turner, and the Chief Executive of Kirklees Active Leisure (KAL), Alasdair Brown.
Contributions from the audience included representatives of sports clubs and schools that regularly use the centre, which is under threat of closure by Kirklees, as well as concerned local residents.
Ms Leadbeater, the MP for Batley and Spen, said: “We all want to save the centre. We want to play football, not use it as a political football. I don’t want to tempt fate, but my feeling, based on the many conversations and meetings I have had, is that we are in a position where this is not a done deal, and I wouldn’t be holding this meeting if I thought it was.”
She listed many of the groups that rely on the facilities, including almost 30 schools, the OWLS over 50s group, Howden Clough Football Club, the Dewsbury Dolphins Swimming Club, Batley Sporting Foundation, local tennis coaches and many more. She said several of them had not only spoken of the importance of keeping the centre open, but had also offered suggestions for how to do so.
The centre is proposed to shut permanently, along with Dewsbury Sports Centre, as the council looks to save funds. Consultation is still ongoing, with the public encouraged to comment on the council’s plan.
Coun Turner said: “We have had 13,500 responses so far (to the public consultation) and every one of them will be looked at before the Council makes its decision in December.”
Mr Brown added: “We want to save the centre if we possibly can”.
Questions from the audience stressed the importance of the centre to North Kirklees following the closure of Batley Baths and the temporary closure of Dewsbury Sports Centre, with one concerned audience member saying: “There is nowhere else suitable, so if you take this centre away you’re taking away my chance to exercise.”
The public consultation can be found here: https://www.kirklees.gov.uk/beta/food-exercise-and-sport/leisure-centre-review-consultation.aspx