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Labour councillor says school and council could come to agreement over future of under-threat leisure centre in Lichfield

A Labour councillor says there is no reason why an agreement cannot be reached to keep Friary Grange Leisure Centre open.

A public meeting took place last night (15th July) to discuss the proposals to close the site by Lichfield District Council.

The Friary School is keen to become an academy and wants some of the profit-making elements of the leisure centre – such as the sports hall and all weather pitch – to help support that transition.

But it would mean the swimming pool would not be retained.

Cllr Dave Robertson
Cllr Dave Robertson

Cllr Dave Robertson, Labour representative for the Curborough ward on Lichfield District Council, said discussions could still yield a result which would see the centre remaining a public facility.

“All of the buildings at Friary Grange are ultimately owned by Staffordshire County Council and have been paid for by our council tax,” he said.

“The all weather pitch and sports hall are profit making and help to subsidise the swimming pool, which is very expensive to run, as all pools are.

“When the school becomes an academy the school buildings, sports field, sports hall and all weather pitch will be transferred to a private company call Greywood Multi Schools Trust. There are very good reasons for the new academy to retain ownership of the sports hall and all weather pitch during the day.

“However, the Trust has the freedom to enter in to an arrangement with the district council to lease the facilities back to the community, outside of school hours, in return for a peppercorn rent, particularly in the short term.

“This would mean that the district council could continue to rely on the profit made from these buildings to reduce the investment needed to keep the pool open.

“While this solution would mean that the trust would not benefit from the profit, it would not reduce the current budget which the school receives, but instead mean that the school has to wait until it makes money from facilities which we have all paid for via our council tax.”

Cllr Robertson has asked Conservative member Cllr Jamie Checkland, who is also the chair of The Friary School’s board of governors, to take his suggestion back for further discussion.

“I will be happy to attend on behalf of the residents in my ward should he think this will be beneficial,” Cllr Robertson said.

Cllr Doug Pullen, Conservative leader of Lichfield District Council has already confirmed he has sought fresh talks to find a resolution to the situation.

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1 Comment

  1. AnnS

    16th July, 2019 at 5:55 pm

    As Jamie Checkland is Chair of Governors at the Friary school and a Cllr. surely there is a conflict of interest here? If I am correct then would it not be the case that he could not be part of the decision making process? Perhaps someone could enlighten me.

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