Campaigners celebrate as leisure centre is given a new lease of life

L-R: Clare Darwood (hlw Keeble Hawson), Faye Howard (SCLC Board of Trustees) and Claire Mayfield- Tulip (hlw Keeble Hawson) at Stocksbridge Community Leisure Centre
L-R: Clare Darwood (hlw Keeble Hawson), Faye Howard (SCLC Board of Trustees) and Claire Mayfield- Tulip (hlw Keeble Hawson) at Stocksbridge Community Leisure Centre
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The future of Stocksbridge Community Leisure Centre (SCLC) has been officially secured, after being awarded a 25-year lease from Sheffield City Council.

A campaign was launched to save it from being closed after residents formed a community trust, called ‘4SLC’ For Stocksbridge Leisure Centre, whose seven-strong board now runs the complex.

The facility is fondly regarded as a ‘treasured community asset’ and after a tireless effort to save the premises, it is now a registered charity.

Campaigners first sprung into action after shock funding cuts meant the forced closure of the leisure centre, in a bid to save the £400,000 annual subsidy. It closed it’s doors in April 2013.

Over the summer of 2013 a huge group of volunteers was gathered, and they set about refurbishing the centre.

The closure plan was part of Sheffield Council’s £50m budget cuts for 2013/14. It meant the loss of two valued swimming pools and well used community sporting facilities and classes.

The centre was originally built on land donated to the people of Stocksbridge by Thomas Oxley and built with the help of donations collected by the residents of Stocksbridge and Deepcar.

The SCLC has now undergone a major refurbishment thanks to those residents who undertook more than 2,000 hours of voluntary work, local businesses who donated supplies and equipment – and some initial funding from Sheffield City Council.

The property team at hlw Keeble Hawson – one of the region’s biggest law firms with offices in Sheffield, Leeds and Doncaster – acted on behalf of the trust to manage the transfer of the lease.

Fay Howard, a member of SCLC’s Board of Trustees, said: “The support we’ve received to date has been tremendous and taking on the lease, thanks to Sheffield City Council, will enable future generations to enjoy the centre’s wealth of facilities.

“The expertise of hlw Keeble Hawson’s property team has ensured a smooth and timely transition.”

The campaigners said they have been overwhelmed with the feeling of support from the local community.

In February 2015 the refurbished ‘learner pool’ – complete with a new energy-efficient boiler – re-opened to groups and organised activities. The official re-opening by Stocksbridge mayor, Jack Clarkson, took place on June 21.

The directors and trustees are now working on plans to re-open the ‘big pool’.

The centre is once again at the heart of the community, offering a variety of swim sessions in the smaller pool and sports classes. It also runs summer play sessions for children during the school holidays.

Claire Mayfield-Tulip, a partner at hlw Keeble Hawson, added: “The centre has undoubtedly struck a chord with hundreds of local residents and it has been satisfying to play a role in helping to fulfil its overriding goal to sustain a secure future.”

Ongoing initiatives to raise awareness and boost funds for the centre include sponsoring a brick, where individuals can donate £20 for a plaque on a dedicated open brick wall and companies can contribute £150 for corporate sponsorship.

The aim is to raise £100,000 towards the purchase of new biomass boilers.

Today, after what has turned into a two-year fight, residents are once again delighted to be able to use their local leisure centre. It was officially taken over by residents in November 2013.

A celebratory family fun day for the whole community is to be held at SCLC on August 28 at the Moorland Drive venue in Stocksbridge, from 10am-3pm. People of all ages are welcome to attend.