Leisure centres will shut to cut spending

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PLANS to close three South Yorkshire leisure centres in a bid to cope with massive spending cuts have been rubber-stamped by councillors.

Barnsley Council’s cabinet voted through a proposal to shut Athersley Leisure Centre, Penistone Leisure Centre and Wombwell Swimming Pool on May 31.

Barnsley Premier Leisure, which operates the facilities on behalf of the council, said the operation of the three centres is no longer viable, in the face of big spending cuts.

More than 2,000 people had signed a petition to save the historic Wombwell baths, which dates back to the 19th century.

A council spokesman said: “The pressure on budgets in the current financial climate means it is no longer economically viable to continue funding this facility.

“It would cost over £700,000 within the next five years to maintain it at current levels.”

He said numbers visiting Penistone Leisure Centre are consistently low and the facility needs £270,000 of maintenance.

Athersley Leisure Centre is already closed to the public on health and safety grounds.

It is thought closing the three leisure centres will lead to the loss of 44 jobs.

Discussions are continuing as to what the buildings will be used for when the centres close next week.

Barnsley Council is facing budget cuts of more £40 million to 2015.