Steve Norman

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.

Friary Grange Leisure Centre

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.

Steve Norman

“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.”

Founder of LichfieldLive and editor of the site.

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7 Comments

  1. Just to update readers. The meeting to discuss what to do about the petition (I think it is straightforward – the Cabinet have to look at it again) is item 2 on the agenda being discussed at this moment.

    Nice to see that the Council Leader had briefed Mr Fabricant, by the way, but can Lichfield Live try an Andrew Neil approach? Not easy of course – as Ross probably doesn’t get Neil’s salary – or even expenses – but does the MP support the action by his colleagues at County and District?

    You can bet your life if it was a Labour council he would be photographed outside the building with protesters! You never know, he might be invited to join current swimmers at Burntwood Leisure Centre who may want to raise their fears of losing places because of the influx of swimmers from Lichfield that he is encouraging.

  2. Always nice to be right occasionally. I think officers are now doing their best to put as much as they can into the public domain so that there can be transparency and importantly, scrutiny by the public.
    I believe the Cabinet will be better Informed if users – especially swimming club members are able to let them know the actual effect that closure will have on them and on Burntwood.
    I have to give some credit to the new Leadership responding in this way- albeit with some pushing.

  3. It would be useful if the council make known the things that require so much money to be spent then we would all be aware of the facts

  4. Yet another conservative excercise Darryl to convince the proletariat that their prodigy are getting a better education while siphoning off the running costs. Another house of cards waiting to fall.

  5. The Friary becoming an academy is due to the dire state of funding our schools and lack of investment in education. The school has no choice. The current situation is in no way the school’s fault and if people wish to retain the AstroTurf and sports hall at all, they need to support the school taking them over. If left to the council they will be closed all together.

    It’s not true to say that the children will lose out. The school are the ones fighting to keep the facilities.

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