Council are ‘hopeful’ on future of Sheffield leisure centre

Stocksbridge Leisure Centre
Stocksbridge Leisure Centre
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COMMUNITY campaigners have been given a further nine months to put together a rescue package for a threatened Sheffield leisure centre.

Sheffield Council has now agreed to keep Stocksbridge Leisure Centre ‘mothballed’ up until the end of March next year - instead of three months initially proposed.

The authority has withdrawn £400,000 to cover the venue’s annual subsidy but campaign group 4SLC and Stocksbridge Town Council believe they can take over the running of the centre and keep it open at lower cost.

Before yesterday afternoon’s Cabinet meeting at Sheffield Town Hall, at which councillors officially voted to withdraw the subsidy, leader Julie Dore met with representatives of 4SLC.

Coun Dore said that as a result of that meeting, she was now “hopeful” that the centre could continue to operate in the future under the guidance of a community managed group.

She said: “I needed to make it clear to 4SLC that there is a determination and commitment from the city council to work with them in partnership to find a solution for Stocksbridge.

“I was impressed with commitment, skill and passion of that group and it was an extremely positive meeting.”

The cabinet agreed to give 4SLC until April 19 to confirm that they intend to submit a viable business plan for the running of the centre.

Then, if that indication is made, 4SLC have until August 31 to submit their business plan.

Sheffield Council director for culture and environment, Paul Billington, confirmed that if that plan is then deemed acceptable, the council have set aside £125,000 to keep the centre mothballed until March 2014.

Coun Isobel Bowler, cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure, said: “The withdrawal of funding from Stocksbridge Leisure Centre has been an incredibly difficult decision and not one that we wanted to take.”

Why didn’t the council consult in the first place?