The Bishop of Lichfield has said he believes the planned closure of Friary Grange Leisure Centre is “the wrong decision”.
Lichfield District Council is due to make a final call on the future of the city’s last public leisure centre in October.
It had previously drawn up proposals to shut the site from April 2020 after Staffordshire County Council served notice that it would hand over some parts to The Friary School to support its bid to become an academy – meaning other elements such as the swimming pool would shut.
But a campaign which has seen thousands sign a petition over the future of Friary Grange has led to a stay of execution while all options are explored further.
Now the Bishop of Lichfield, The Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave, has written to one of the founders of the group campaigning to save the facility giving his backing to the cause.
In the letter to Caroline Fellows he said: “Of course I appreciate that local authorities operate under severe financial constraints, and sometimes have to make difficult choices,” he said.
“But closure would seem to me to be the wrong decision, given the way that The Friary not only serves to promote physical health and well-being, but also serves as a focus of community gathering.”
He applauded Mrs Fellows’ determination and noted the “remarkable mobilisation of public support” for the campaign group.
Matt Wilson, who set up the petition against the closure, said: “To receive the unequivocal support of a public figure like the Bishop is a fantastic boost to our campaign and we’re hugely grateful to him.
“His support is in stark contrast to the complete silence of our MP Michael Fabricant who has so far failed to respond in any way to our appeals for his help in keeping this vital community asset open for his constituents.”