Protest at plan to axe Sheffield leisure centre

A demonstration outside Stocksbridge Leisure Centre against proposals to close it.
A demonstration outside Stocksbridge Leisure Centre against proposals to close it.
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HUNDREDS of protesters gathered outside a threatened leisure centre in Sheffield to show their opposition to plans to shut the facility.

Campaigners braved the cold waving banners and placards, demanding Stocksbridge Leisure Centre should be saved.

Council cutbacks mean the centre’s future is in doubt because of its high subsidy and the need for extensive modernisation.

Protester Cheryl Dodsworth said more than 800 attended and that Stocksbridge residents ‘showed their united spirit as a community’.

“This is a community who are willing to fight for their rights to have local access to their leisure centre,” she said.

“For a country that wanted to inspire a generation to become active following the Olympics, what message does closing their local sports and leisure centre give?

“Not forgetting the elderly, who use the leisure centre to stay active, play bowls, swim and have a chat and a cup of tea.”

Stocksbridge MP Angela Smith visited the centre with Labour Coun Richard Crowther to discuss the closure threat with staff.

“We all need to work together on a non-political-party basis to find a way forward,” she said.

“This may be community support, via Sheffield City Council or it may be a new facility. Whatever the way forward is, we need to keep this one open until a new facility is put in place.

“I will be fighting along with everyone else to keep swimming facilities in Stocksbridge.”

Representatives from the Liberal Democrats, UKIP and Independent parties also supported the protest.

The leisure centre could be replaced with a new multi-million pound sports facility for the north of Sheffield.

Plans are set to be revealed by Sheffield Council and NHS officials for services including a new swimming pool and gym to serve Stocksbridge, Deepcar, High Green, Chapeltown and Ecclesfield.

A public meeting of Stocksbridge Town Council is being held at The Venue arts centre on Manchester Road tonight at 7pm, with the specific agenda of discussing the leisure centre.