Fears that leisure centre could be ‘closed by stealth’ at later date

DESPITE Horsham Council’s apparent U-turn over proposals to demolish Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre, fears are growing that the centre could end up being shut ‘by stealth.’

Campaigners to save the centre have formed a ‘user group’ and last night put forward new demands to the council to rescind its flawed ‘Leisure Futures Report’, to undertake full public consultation on the centre’s future and to safeguard future management contracts.

In an email sent to every councillor before last night’s meeting, the user group stated: “We remain convinced that there is a need for a public leisure centre at Broadbridge Heath (supported by a MASSIVE petition) and do wish to work with the council positively to see how this provision can be secured for the next 25 years.

“We welcome the apparent softening in the council’s approach and the lengthened timescales to ensure that the necessary research and consultations can be carried out accurately and thoroughly.

“However this cannot be achieved against the backdrop of a strategy based around the cabinet’s adoption ‘as guiding policy’ of the current Leisure Futures Study.

“We are also very concerned regarding the proposal to exclude BBHLC from the new Leisure Management Contract as we believe that this could inevitably lead to the Centre’s degradation and closure ‘by stealth’.”

The group says that the acceptance of the Leisure Futures Study as ‘a strategic document’ is “unacceptable given the identified errors, omissions and fundamental logic flaws therein.

“It needs to be withdrawn and re-worked,using the correct tools, to an acceptable standard so that it could be endorsed by Sport England or other independent body.”

The group also said it was unhappy with the proposal to remove BBHLC from the new leisure management contract.

“Initially,” they said, “this was presented as a recommendation conditional upon agreement to close.

“Now it is being presented as something that should happen independently of that decision.

“The council need to explain why this dependency no longer matters and why it needs to take this action.”

Pictured right: Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre. Has its closure just been delayed?