Could leisure cash have saved Sheffield venues?

Chapeltown Baths
Chapeltown Baths

Campaigners fighting to save Stocksbridge Leisure Centre and Don Valley Stadium have criticised plans to spend £5 million on a new leisure facility rather than support either of the existing venues.

The Star revealed yesterday Sheffield Council is working with the NHS and Sport England to create a new 25-metre swimming pool, gym and indoor and outdoor sports facilities on Thorncliffe playing fields, High Green.

Thorncliffe Playing Fields

Thorncliffe Playing Fields

Chapeltown Baths would close if the scheme happens.

The project is being funded as part of the Government’s National Centre for Sports and Exercise Medicine initiative.

Sheffield Council considered using the money in Stocksbridge but considered the location too isolated.

Council officials also said that, because it was Government money, it could not be used to support council facilities such as Don Valley Stadium.

It has closed and is awaiting demolition - unless there is any last-minute change of heart.

Emma Gregory, of the 4SLC campaign which has reopened Stocksbridge Leisure Centre under community ownership, said: “There is disappointment that the council has not viewed Stocksbridge as the right area.

“I would disagree with the council’s claim the town is not accessible enough but the problem, I suppose, is many people nearby would be from the Barnsley borough not Sheffield, and Barnsley Council would not be willing to pay anything.”

But Emma said her group is ‘concentrating’ on working to reopen the mothballed pool at its leisure centre - and plans to launch the ‘dry’ side of the leisure centre to the public from January. It is currently open to group bookings.

Former Don Valley Stadium coach Rob Creasey, of Save Our Stadium, said: “The council should have looked at using Don Valley Stadium as a potential site for the new leisure centre - it’s something we would have loved to have been consulted about but they chose not to tell us.

“Don Valley Stadium is an iconic venue and we still believe it could be saved.”

Save Our Stadium has secured a debate at Wednesday’s full council meeting about its plans to reopen Don Valley as a community-run facility for sport and education.

The group collected a 6,000-signature petition.