Row after leisure centre cash split between four

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A DECISION to cut £200,000 of funding from a project to refurbish a rundown Sheffield leisure centre has been criticised - but will not be reversed.

Stocksbridge Lib Dem councillor Jack Clarkson has called for £300,000 originally earmarked for the scheme - to revamp Stocksbridge Leisure Centre and improve disabled access - to be given in full.

But the council’s Labour administration decided to split the funding between four venues - meaning Stocksbridge will now receive £101,000.

The rest of the cash has been split between Graves Tennis and Leisure Centre, Norton, which is receiving £102,000, Heeley swimming baths which is to receive £53,000 and Springs leisure centre, Arbourthorne, which is to get £44,000.

All four are being transferred to Sheffield International Venues from the council.

Coun Clarkson told a full meeting of Sheffield Council the decision had been made ‘without any consultation’ and proposed a motion to reverse the decision.

He said funding for Graves, Heeley and Springs should be found from elsewhere.

He said: “If the decision isn’t overturned vital improvements including the installation of a lift and disabled changing facilities won’t go ahead. This would leave disabled residents with a 40-minute round trip from Stocksbridge to Hillsborough Leisure Centre.

“I don’t believe it’s fair to force disabled local residents to the back of the queue, especially while Labour councillors spend millions on their pet projects such as turning Park Hill into posh flats.

“Many local people have told me they fear this is Labour’s first step on the road to closure. But we will fight them every step of the way.

“Our location means local people cannot easily go elsewhere. That’s why it’s so important our leisure centre is kept open.”

Coun Clarkson’s motion was defeated by Labour.

Coun Helen Mirfin-Boukouris, cabinet member responsible for leisure centres, said: “As part of SIV’s schedule of works for the centres it has now been agreed the £300,000 capital investment is shared between all four venues, and not spent solely on Stocksbridge.

“It is my view this is a much fairer way to spend the money available than as had been previously agreed by the Liberal Democrats.”