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A petition against plans to close Friary Grange Leisure Centre shows Lichfield District Council need to think again, the leader of the Labour opposition group has said.
The local authority said it would be shutting the city’s only public leisure centre in April 2020, citing costs of £2.4million to bring the facility up to scratch.
Thousands of residents have already signed a petition against the plan and a public meeting will be held at Curborough Community Centre at 7.30pm today (15th July).
Cllr Doug Pullen, leader of the council said he believed funding a new centre would be better than investing in an ageing one.
But Labour opposition leader Cllr Steve Norman said a timeframe needed to be put forward for such a plan to be palatable.
“The online petition against the closure of Friary Grange Leisure Centre has gone well past the 1,000 signatures needed and I believe it therefore requires the Cabinet to reconsider their decision at the next Cabinet meeting in the light of this opposition,” Cllr Norman said.
“The leisure, parks and waste management overview and scrutiny committee considered the proposals on 12th June.
“In June 2013, I helped to organise a petition against the proposed cuts by the Conservative administration on community services which was signed by over 1,500 local residents, forcing the Cabinet to look again at this so I know what can be done in the very short term.
“If the leader is promising a new leisure centre for Lichfield in the very near future – as part of Friarsgate maybe – then I would press him to give a specific time frame at that Cabinet meeting.
“The petition also gives officers more time to consider the needs of current vulnerable users and the effect on Burntwood if current users are to go there.”
“Cuts to funding”
Cllr Norman said the local authority also needed to look again at its own plans for the future when considering shutting Friary Grange.
He added: “The district council’s current Strategic Plan says ‘Providing support to help those with disabilities and older people stay healthy and active’ – maybe some parts of the district will not be included in this after 2020?
“It would be nice to hear what Friary Grange’s local county council Natasha Pullen has to say on this issue as well as the man responsible for the cuts to funding for the councils in his constituency – the ever silent Mr Fabricant.”