Home > health, leisure, sports > “Closing centres will put our health at risk” From The Advertiser Series

“Closing centres will put our health at risk” From The Advertiser Series

THE North-East’s largest council has been accused of putting sports clubs and children’s health at risk by closing three leisure centres.

On Thursday evening, more than 60 angry youngsters staged a noisy protest outside Sherburn Leisure Centre against Durham County Council’s plan to close the centre – and those in Crook and Ferryhill.

The Labour-run council, which faces £125m of cuts over four years, voted to close the three centres earlier this month.

But sports club leaders say the decision puts their future in doubt and the young protestors say their views were ignored.

Andrew Dixon, from Sherburn Vipers tae kwon do club, which has 30 members, said: “If the centre closes, the club would probably cease to exist.

“We’re finding it difficult to find facilities elsewhere. We just want it to stay open, regardless of who runs it.”

Jayne Dixon, from Sherburn Gymnastics Club, which has 45 members aged from five to 15, said: “We’re absolutely devastated. We’ve got nowhere else to turn.”

Laura Reed, 15, who uses the centre’s gym every weekend, said: “I’m very upset.

There’s nowhere else I can use.”

Several community-led bids to take over the three centres, including three bids for Sherburn, were rejected by county councillors as unviable.

However, Sherburn Parish Council chairman Stuart Walton said its bid would be resubmitted, and The Northern Echo understands other bidders are similarly refusing to give up hope.

Council bosses say the centres are costly and need refurbishment and they want to support outdoor sports initiatives.

Terry Collins, the council’s corporate director of neighbourhoods, said it had consulted very widely with leisure centre users and clubs and would work with any clubs affected by closures.

“Our sport and leisure strategy is proof of our longterm commitment to not only continue to support grassroots sport and leisure activities, but to broaden what is on offer and bring it closer to more people,” he said.

The three leisure centres are due to close on Saturday, October 1.

Three other centres were saved. Pity Me’s will stay open on reduced hours, Deerness Gymnastics Club will turn Ushaw Moor’s into a gymnastics academy and Coxhoe Leisure Centre will be run by the community.

“Closing centres will put our health at risk”

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