COUNCIL chiefs are accused of treating Stocksbridge like a ‘poor cousin’ of Sheffield in proposals to shut its leisure centre.
Protesters vowed to fight tooth and nail to save Stocksbridge Leisure Centre - threatened with the axe amid budget cuts - at a demonstration outside Sheffield Town Hall.
There are fears its closure would impact quality of life for 18,000 Stocksbridge residents, especially older people and children.
A petition has 9,465 names in just one week, enough to warrant a full council debate which will be held next Wednesday.
Stocksbridge resident Barbara Godley, 64, attends weekly Young at Heart sessions and uses the badminton and swimming facilities.
Barbara said: “The biggest fear is for the children. It is part of their curriculum to learn swimming but there is nowhere else nearby they could do it. We’re 10 miles from Sheffield. Stocksbridge is treated like a poor cousin.”
Sheffield Council is proposing to shut the facility because it costs £400,000 a year in subsidy - £3 per visit which is six times the per-visit cost to the council of other leisure centres.
A new centre has been planned for the north of Sheffield, but campaigners argue access will still be a problem for Stocksbridge folk.
Mayor of Stocksbridge Susie Abrahams said: “We have the oldest population in Sheffield and the fattest five-year-olds. To lose the centre would have huge implications.”
The issue is particularly emotive as the centre was paid for by the people of Stocksbridge in 1969.
Each week, residents would contribute cash to build on land bequeathed by businessman Thomas Oxley for ‘recreational purposes’ in 1921. The city council became trustee in the 1970s.
Mary Kaye, the Stocksbridge resident who set up the petition, said: “Support has been tremendous. We’ve heard the council wants to sell the land for houses.
“What’s the point of building houses when there aren’t going to be any facilities for residents?”