South Kesteven District Council will decide whether or not to close Deepings Leisure Centre next month, as people voiced their concerns at a lack of refurbishment for the centre.
Council leaders announced their intention to close the leisure centre after claiming that it would need £1.2 million just to fix various health and safety issues, including a total replacement of the existing roof.
Deepings Leisure Centre has been managed by the council since it was built in 1974, but had to close for safety reasons after rainwater leaks on Tuesday, July 27.
The council has been accused of “deliberately” letting the facilities become run down, and members of the local community, including deputy mayor and councillor for Market and West Deeping, Virginia Moran, are accusing SKDC of “scare tactics” with the £1.2 million figure.
Moran claimed at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday afternoon that the centre could be open and safe again “within weeks, for half the cost”.
A petition set up by independent councillors to oppose the decision has now reached over 6,800 signatures at the time of reporting, and it states that the Conservatives at South Kesteven District Council had “betrayed” the community.
At the cabinet meeting, it was agreed by council leader Kelham Cooke to organise a full SKDC council meeting next month to discuss the proposed closure further.
The building and land is owned by Lincolnshire County Council and the facility is managed by the district council. Both the councils have agreed that the leisure centre is now past its economic and operational life.
The full meeting will take place on Thursday, September 2, allowing for all members of the council to visit the leisure centre and to read a full report ahead of deciding whether or not it should be kept open.
The centre will remain closed pending a decision at that meeting.
SKDC chief executive Karen Bradford said it was “not a safe place” and explained the decision to back the closure of the centre is not one that was taken lightly.
She said: “There’s a significant health and safety risk at the building, with huge amounts of water coming in. This hasn’t happened overnight and it’s not just about the roof.
“It is the pool itself, the tiles; swimming lessons have to be adjusted because of broken tiles. I do not believe it is a safe place.”
In opposition to this, a statement from Deepings Swimming Club was read out during the meeting and it said: “We welcome plans for a new facility but a refresh of the local plan is too far away to ensure our club’s survival. We believe the leisure centre pool is an asset always worth the investment necessary to sustain it.”
To back this up, long-standing leisure centre user Ian Stegall emotively called for the council to not “deny local kids the chance to follow their Olympic heroes.”
Lincolnshire County Council said that if the leisure centre is forced into closure, it will support the Deepings School, which uses the facilities, to secure a sports hall solution in the short-term.
The county council has also offered land on Millfield Road as a potential site for a new centre, but campaigners do not see this as a viable option and believe that the area is being “short-changed”.