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Disabled swimming club in Lichfield warns proposed alternatives will not work if Friary Grange Leisure Centre closes

A swimming club for disabled people in Lichfield has said none of the options proposed if Friary Grange Leisure Centre closed would allow it to continue operating.

Friary Grange Leisure Centre
Friary Grange Leisure Centre

Penguins Swimming Club currently has members aged between 2 and 80.

But the club will be without a pool if Lichfield District Council pushes ahead with plans to close Friary Grange from April 2020.

Swimming coach John Townsend told a public meeting at Curborough Community Centre this week that alternative options being put forward for users of the pool would not work for his members.

“The problem with going up to Burntwood is difficult for many people,” he explained. “We have problems getting our members to Friary Grange, so we’re never going to get them up to Burntwood.

“Nether Stowe School’s pool was also mentioned but there are no facilities for the disabled so that’s not an option at all either.”

The Penguins Swimming Club was originally formed in 1978, with John explaining to the audience at the meeting how it serves more than just the disabled swimming community.

“We were actually formed in conjunction with the council,” he said. “They were very keen for a Penguins Swimming Club which serves the disabled community in Lichfield, and so we were set up at the Friary and provided with a dedicated hour which still carries on today.

“We are run completely by qualified volunteer instructors like myself.

“But we also serve the younger community, as we take students who can use our club to do the community aspect of their Duke of Edinburgh award.”

Lichfield District Council has deferred a final decision on the future of Friary Grange Leisure Centre until September.

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