A Lichfield councillor has called for a stay of execution while the full picture around plans to shut Friary Grange Leisure Centre are considered.
The facility will close to the public in April 2020 after Lichfield District Council said it would cost £2.4million to bring the facility up to standard.
It means that Burntwood Leisure Centre will now be the only public facility available after the local authority handed over the King Edward VI Leisure Centre to the adjoining school.
A public meeting is being held at 7.30pm tonight (15th July) at Curborough Community Centre to formulate a plan of action by campaigners.
Cllr Doug Pullen, leader of Lichfield District Council has said his preference would be to invest in a new centre rather than spend money on “patching up” an existing one.
But Cllr Joanne Grange, an independent member on Lichfield District Council, said the option of a new centre would not work in the short term.
“While I don’t believe anyone would disagree with the notion that investing in a new leisure centre is preferable to patching up an old one, there is no sign of a new leisure centre at the moment so this isn’t really a choice that’s available,” she said.
“The choice at the moment is patching up an old leisure centre or having no leisure centre.
“Based on this, clearly the best answer is patching up the existing facility, especially in the context of rising obesity levels, the demonstrable benefits of exercise to good mental health, the terrible incidents of drowning recently in the district and Lichfield District Council’s own strategic plan giving as a key aim ‘creating healthy and safe communities’ to name but a few reasons.
“The situation appears to have been caused by two councils not being able to agree terms to provide leisure facilities for the very people that pay for both councils – if ever there was a good argument for a unitary authority this would surely form part of the case study.
“The key issue here is timing. Friary Grange Leisure Centre has to be given a stay of execution until such time as there is at least a plan for replacement with visible signs of that plan being carried out.
“It should come as no surprise that, given Friarsgate, trust to deliver some future, as yet unplanned and unfunded new leisure centre is low.”
Almost 3,000 residents have now signed the petition and many are expected to attend the public meeting tonight.
Lichfield District Council were expected to rubber stamp the plan at a meeting of the local authority on Tuesday.
The Friary Grange Leisure Centre agenda item had been earmarked to be heard behind closed doors – a move Cllr Grange said needs to be rethought.
She added: “I will be voting against this decision should it come before the council meeting on Tuesday, but given the petition has reached more than 1,000 signatures there is a requirement for a report to be made that will be considered by Cabinet which common sense suggests should be in advance of the vote.”