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Organiser of public meeting over future of Friary Grange Leisure Centre says Lichfield must show it is a city that cares

One of the organisers of a public meeting about the future of Friary Grange Leisure Centre says Lichfield has to show it is a city that cares.

Caroline Fellows was one of those behind the debate at Curborough Community Centre last night (15th July).

It was called after Lichfield District Council put forward proposals to shut the leisure centre from April 2020.

Caroline Fellows speaking at the public meeting
Caroline Fellows speaking at the public meeting

Closure would mean users facing a trip to Burntwood Leisure Centre in order to access facilities such as the swimming pool.

But Caroline said this was not a viable solution.

“What about the pressure that this is going to put on Burntwood?” she said.

“The teachers are going to be expected to take a lot more children for swimming, but their lessons are already booked solid and there’s a waiting list in Burntwood, just as there is at Friary Grange Leisure Centre.

“Where are all these children suddenly going to get their lessons from? There’s only so many hours in the day and only so many hours the pool is open.

“I would hope that as a community we can support the leisure centre because the staff are devastated and as the amount of people here shows, we care.

“And Lichfield has got to be a city that cares – we’ve got to come together and work for this.”

“A fantastic sense of community”

Caroline’s view was echoed by regular leisure centre user Rick Hill.

He told the meeting that the future of Friary Grange should not be purely decided on the balance sheet.

“If money is the issue I don’t think that’s right,” he explained. “It’s about whether we want a leisure centre – and leisure isn’t the right word anyway, it’s really about our health and wellbeing.

“I go five days a week and I’m of an age that it’s important to carry on keeping fit.

“People say the centre’s run down, but actually it’s lovely. There’s a fantastic sense of community and a fantastic sense of people wanting to be there.

“When I heard the news that it was going to close not only was I disappointed about not being able to go and do what I want to do, but I was also concerned about the community because it draws people together.

“I’d say we want a leisure centre that’s suitable for Lichfield.

“I’m going on holiday to Diss, a town that has 7,000 people. Does it have a leisure centre? Yes. But we’re saying that for Lichfield there will be nothing unless you’ve got the money to go to David Lloyd or somewhere else.

“If you can do things privately that’s fine, but I want a community leisure centre that meets people health, wellbeing and good community needs.”

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