Sheffield leisure centre closure threat

Stocksbridge Leisure Centre
Stocksbridge Leisure Centre

residents are ‘angry’ after it emerged a Sheffield leisure centre is on a list of closure-threatened buildings as part of a council drive to save £50 million.

Independent Stocksbridge town Coun Jack Clarkson said the move would leave the elderly isolated and fuel a rise in anti-social behaviour.

He said: “The leisure centre acts like a community centre. A lot of elderly people use it as a social gathering place because there is a bowls hall and this will leave them with nowhere to go.

“We don’t suffer from anti-social behaviour as there has been some good work by the youth work team but they are all going to finish up on the streets.

“Local people are very angry. They realise cuts have got to be made but it seems Stocksbridge is missing out again – because we are 12 miles from Sheffield we are an easy target.”

He said residents would have to travel to Hillsborough to swim and further afield to take part in their favourite sport.

“The public transport links from Stocksbridge are poor and it will mean people having to pay at least another £4 on top of any sporting activity admission.”

Mr Clarkson said: “The council is just trying to rush things through and save money and is not thinking about things properly.”

The move comes after it was revealed Don Valley Stadium is also on the list for possible closure.

And it comes after Sheffield Ski Village announced it was unlikely to reopen again following a spate of arson attacks.

Coun Clarkson said: “Sheffield has a reputation as a city of sport and yet here we are closing down our sporting facilities.

“We have produced some world class athletes.”

He added: “The health, and wellbeing of many people will inevitably suffer from this irresponsible decision which will have a devastating effect on the community.”

Readers criticised the move on The Star’s Facebook fan page.

Lindsey Watson said: “My daughter has swimming lessons there and they are certainly busy enough. This is sad news.”

Gareth Lane added: “Only organised campaigns in communities will save these services, attend the council meeting on the 23rd and tell the council what you think.”

And on Twitter @maggiemays said: “Awful news, it was only 10 years ago when Sheffield was capital of sport in England.”

Stocksbridge and Hillsborough Labour MP Angela Smith said: “The council is facing Draconian cuts. The cuts per head in Sheffield are £140 compared with north Dorset where it’s £2.70 a head.

“It goes back to Nick Clegg who represents the city at the very top level of government and it’s about time he made a case for us.”

She added: “It’s important people in north Sheffield have access to leisure facilities and we need to look quite carefully at this.”

Coun Bryan Lodge, Sheffield Council’s cabinet member for finance and resources, said: “A long list of proposals have been drawn up by officers and they include sadly one option which is to withdraw funding to Stocksbridge Leisure Centre. 
“It costs £400,000 a year to operate and attracts far fewer visits than other similar centres in the city.”

A decision on the centre will be taken at a full council meeting on March 4.

n Organisers of the Sheffield half marathon have reassured runners the race, which starts and ends at the closure-threatened Don Valley Stadium, will still go ahead.

The 13.2 mile race takes place on Sunday, May 12.