People power helps to re-open Sheffield leisure centre

One of the protests outside Stocksbridge Leisure Centre
One of the protests outside Stocksbridge Leisure Centre

People power has helped to broker a deal to re-open Stocksbridge Leisure Centre.

Community campaigners were celebrating today after Sheffield Council agreed to contribute £179,000 - less than half the previous annual £400,000 subsidy.

Stocksbridge Town Council and campaign group 4SLC are to find the extra cash to cover running costs.

The agreement comes just over a month after the centre was closed as part of Sheffield Council’s £50 million budget cuts.

Meanwhile, 4SLC has agreed to withdraw a judicial review which had been ordered into the decision to close the centre, on Moorland Road, which is currently mothballed.

Emma Gregory, who chairs 4SLC, said: “The campaign hasn’t been easy but we have showed Sheffield Council we weren’t going to go away, and this community has managed its goal.”

She said a date for reopening has not yet been set - although it will be ‘as soon as possible’.

“Throughout the judicial review proceedings we have continued to explore alternative ways to provide access to the facilities at Stocksbridge Leisure Centre, particularly for the elderly and disabled who would find it difficult to travel elsewhere.

“We are delighted a solution has been found which will bring management of the centre under community control, with some initial financial support from Sheffield Council.

“We would like to thank all those who have supported our campaign for their hard work, and donations, and we look forward to breathing new life into the leisure centre.”

Ms Gregory added it has not yet been decided how much of the centre, to be run by 4SLC and the town council, will reopen straight away.

Sheffield Council said its funding is coming from re-allocating the £125,000 it was going to provide to mothball the centre for up to a year, plus £54,000 from its capital budget.

The total comes to a sum similar to the £180,000 subsidy that Sheffield International Venues - which used to manage the centre for the council - said in secret emails sent last December was needed to keep the main pool at the centre open.

SIV said the whole centre could be operated for around £300,000.

Coun Isobel Bowler, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for culture, sport and leisure, said: “We are pleased we have reached an agreement with 4SLC.

“The focus can now be on working to develop community-led sporting and leisure facilities.

“We are fully committed to working with both 4SLC and Stocksbridge Town Council to support them in their aspiration to provide sporting facilities in their community and a solution that is sustainable and workable for local people.

“It is a positive step forward that we can continue to work together, and I would like to thank 4SLC for approaching this matter in a productive manner.”