Closure threat in leisure reshuffle

20/7/09'Swimmers at Heeley Pool in Sheffied were joined by Cllr Roger Davison to make a splash and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the pool. Swimmers were also swimming to raise money for the Sheffield's Children Charity and were joined my mascot Theo''PICTURE: SARAH WASHBOURN
20/7/09'Swimmers at Heeley Pool in Sheffied were joined by Cllr Roger Davison to make a splash and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the pool. Swimmers were also swimming to raise money for the Sheffield's Children Charity and were joined my mascot Theo''PICTURE: SARAH WASHBOURN

THE sports and leisure portfolio on which Sheffield has made a name over 20 years is to be expanded – but the company running it is to lose 20 jobs and is looking at the closure of one of its centres.

The council is passing management of Graves Tennis and Leisure Centre, Heeley swimming pool, Stocksbridge Leisure Centre and Springs Leisure Centre to its specialist operator, Sheffield International Venues.

It believes the overall result will be a cost saving because of economies and scale of efficiencies generated by SIV’s expertise. Although its annual grant to the trust is being cut, it will reflect a subsidy for extra operating costs.

SIV chief executive Steve Brailey said: “Our efficiencies are in line with the council’s budget strategy and will have little impact on our customers.

“However, the transfer of the four city council venues to our already strong portfolio of facilities offers SIV the chance to able to deliver more benefits to the people of Sheffield.

“We will be looking at gradually introducing SIV’s programmes and working with existing users to enhance their experience at these centres. We will also be carefully considering what capital improvements we can make to improve the venues and attract more Sheffield residents to take part in sport and exercise.

“Unfortunately we will have to lose around 20 jobs. We are currently liaising with staff and will know precise numbers once the consultation period ends in March.”

SIV is one of the largest sport, entertainment and leisure groups in the north of England and already runs Ponds Forge, the Arena, the City Hall, the English Institute of Sport, Don Valley Stadium, iceSheffield, Hillsborough Leisure Centre, Concord Sports Centre and three golf courses in the city.

But it may be about to lose Woodbourn Road stadium at Attercliffe, which is used for community athletics, training and has a 400-seat stand and a football pitch. Don Valley Stadium’s smaller sister, it opened in the late Eighties.

Mr Brealey said Sheffield had two other major athletics venues – Don Valley and the English Institute of Sport – and was soon to have a further athletics facility offering community use at Chaucer School.

“Woodbourn has significant outstanding investment needs which, in the light of the alternative provision for athletics in the city, is difficult for the city council to justify and may therefore lead to its closure during 2011.

“The city council will be undertaking an urgent review and current users of the site will be consulted as part of the review process.”