A petition has been launched in a bid to prevent The Friary Grange Leisure Centre from closing.
Lichfield District Council has confirmed plans to pull out of the site in April 2020.
The local authority claims that the centre would need at least £2.4million spent to bring it up to standard, despite a £500,000 makeover in 2013 and an update to the gym facilities in the following year.
But residents have now launched a petition in a bid to keep Lichfield’s remaining leisure centre after the council pulled out of King Edward VI Leisure Centre in 2017, handing it over to the school – a move which now looks to be replicated with The Friary School.
It means that only Burntwood Leisure Centre remains as a council-run leisure centre in the district.
After the local authority appointed Freedom Leisure to manage the centres under its control, Cllr Iain Eadie – the current deputy leader – claimed in 2017 that move would provide “the best possible services for local people”.
He said: “Where Freedom has taken over the operation of leisure centres in other areas of the country, such as Wrexham and Arun, participation levels have gone up, significant investment into the facilities has taken place, and local communities have responded well to the wider opportunities to live healthier, more active lifestyles, and to make the most of their leisure time.
“Outsourcing the management of our leisure centres will help us to use our resources effectively, while providing the best possible services for local people.”
“Hugely wasteful projects”
Petition organiser Matt Wilson said it was unacceptable for the council to leave the city without leisure facilities at a time when millions was spent on the aborted Friarsgate redevelopment.
“Lichfield District Council have stated that keeping the leisure centre operating is not a good use of taxpayers money,” he said. In a country and city facing an obesity crisis, I disagree.
“We must keep the leisure centre and pool open, to create an affordable and inclusive leisure facility for Lichfield residents.
“The council needs to prioritise the health and wellbeing of Lichfield residents, focus on keeping the leisure centre, and spend less resources on hugely wasteful projects such as Friarsgate.”
The warning signs over the future of Friary Grange Leisure Centre have been evident in recent times, with an unplanned closure after issues with the building were discovered, and discussions around the site held behind closed doors at Lichfield District Council.