Leisure Centre ‘fair deal’ plea

candidatesBS''Councillor Julie Dore Labour Leader Sheffield  City Council
candidatesBS''Councillor Julie Dore Labour Leader Sheffield City Council
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STOCKSBRIDGE residents have called on Sheffield Council to give the town a ‘fair deal’ by giving its leisure centre a stay of execution.

Members of the 4SLC protest group attended the full council meeting yesterday where the council’s budget was agreed, including removal of £400,000 to subsidise the running costs of Stocksbridge Leisure Centre.

Before the budget was discussed, councillors had a debate on a report on the Fair Deal for Sheffield.

A cross-party group has called on the council to address the inequalities between rich and poor areas - including health matters and poverty.

A million pounds has been set aside by the council to implement the commission’s recommendations.

Barbara Godley, a member of 4SLC who was at the council meeting, said: “They have £1 million to spare for fairness? We had money which had been allocated to upgrade Stocksbridge Leisure Centre taken off us a couple of years ago which was spent elsewhere.

“Why can’t some of the million be spent on our leisure centre to support us while we try to find a way of keeping it open long-term?”

Emma Gregory, chairman of 4SLC, added: “I don’t think Stocksbridge is being given a fair deal at all. We should be given a share of the £1m.

“The leisure centre is a lifeline for elderly and young people who have no other facilities. Closure will have an impact on health and will cost more because young people will have nothing to do so could end up on the streets in trouble.

“I don’t think the council’s claim of a £400,000 annual subsidy is accurate. We’ve had a look at the figures and it seems more like £200,000 to £250,000.”

Meanwhile, allotment holders fear a huge increase in fees of 60 per cent next year after a 100 per cent rise this year - and say some growers could give up.

Janet Wilson, vice president of Sheffield Allotments and Leisure Gardeners’ Federation, said: “Some people will not be able to afford to carry on - particularly those on lower incomes.”

Kenneth Filleul presented a 27-signature petition to the council on behalf of Totley Church, calling for a council tax rise to protect services including libraries.

He said: “Our library is well-supported and it would be difficult for anyone without a car to get to another library if ours was to close.”

Sheffield Council leader Coun Julie Dore said the £1m allocated to help implement the Fairness Commission’s recommendations was a one-off piece of funding so it would not be appropriate to use the money to protect services.

The council added up to 14 of 27 community libraries could close - but it hopes to avoid any closures by inviting third parties to run them.