“We will continue our fight” – South Leeds Sports Centre campaigners

Last month a bid by local organisation Tiger 11 to take the recently-closed South Leeds Sports Centre in Beeston into community control failed. Guest blogger Sally Cieslik now challenges the council to find an innovative and exciting ways of developing the inner city centre.

We are extremely disappointed that the bid that Tiger 11 has been working on for a year has failed due to a lack of finance.

We now turn to the council to look for a serious alternative in order that the sports centre can be revitalized and reopened. There is already an agreement in place to keep the site secure until March 2011 and this time should be used to find an alternative way forward.

Our vision is still that our centre should become a hub of sports and leisure in one of the most deprived areas of the city.

After our first campaign the centre was re-opened in a non-sustainable and, on reflection, a half-hearted way. It was seen as a problem not an opportunity and therefore no refurbishment was undertaken, despite this being cited as the reason for its closure in the first place.

This time the job needs to be done properly. The building is sound and it would be a travesty to pull it down.

We believe that the loss of this facility will be felt by residents of South Leeds now and for decades into the future.

Losing opportunity to swim locally

Hundreds of children and young people will lose the opportunity to join in sports and swim locally. It is particularly despicable that two years before the Olympic games, when everyone should have access to sport and it is being promoted locally and nationally, that the council are even considering it for closure.

Sport is becoming the domain of the elite and of those who can pay to travel, training and facilities. Whatever happened to the idea that sport is “for all”?

The destruction of this centre by the council would be nothing less than vandalism. The site is currently sealed off and the cost of decommissioning will run to many thousands of pounds. This money should be earmarked to kickstart the centre’s rejuvenation.

We challenge the council to find an innovative and exciting ways of developing this centre and ensuring it becomes the hub of sport, leisure and fun for everyone in the vicinity and beyond.

Our campaign continues.

Guest blogger Sally Cieslik is a leading campaigner with the Splashback group which opposed the closure of South Leeds Sports Centre.

This post originally featured on the Guardian Leeds blog at http://www.guardian.co.uk/leeds.

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