Sheffield MPs and aquatics clubs demand government meeting to secure future of Ponds Forge

Aquatics clubs and MPs across Sheffield urged government to provide funding to secure the future of Ponds Forge International Sports Centre.

Friday, 11th September 2020, 3:23 pm

Sheffield misses out on funding other cities get to recover from Covid-19 leisure losses because it runs facilities at arms-length via Sheffield City Trust.

Other local authorities which have direct control of facilities get around 75 percent of losses paid for by the government.

Coun Terry Fox, cabinet member for finance at the council, said earlier this week the lack of support forced them to make ‘difficult decisions’ such as keeping Ponds Forge closed while reopening most other leisure venues.

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Ponds Forge.

City of Sheffield Diving, City of Sheffield Swim Squad, City of Sheffield Water Polo and University Swimming and Water Polo clubs - which successfully campaigned the council to reopen Ponds Forge next month - are now demanding a meeting with the government and key stakeholders to secure the long-term future of the venue.

In a joint statement, the clubs and Labour MPs Clive Betts, Paul Blomfield, Louise Haigh, Gill Furniss and Olivia Blake said: “Ponds Forge leisure centre is a jewel in the crown for Sheffield, providing elite-level sporting facilities for clubs and families across our city. These clubs, making use of the Ponds Forge facility, have produced dozens of Olympians over the years and Sheffield is rightly proud of that extraordinary sporting partnership. Ponds Forge is the beating heart of those clubs, and of that success.

“We welcome Sheffield City Council’s decision to fund the reopening of Ponds Forge but, without support from central government, questions remain regarding the site’s longer-term funding. It is completely wrong that perverse rules are currently denying Sheffield the vital support made available to other cities, and the government must act to put that right. A solution can and must be found that secures Sheffield’s share of emergency funding which, we believe, would allow Ponds Forge to continue serving the community long into the future."

Sheffield Council put aside £16.6 million to help reopen most facilities across the city last month, this was £11.2 million more than budgeted for.

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