DESPITE a huge public outcry and calls to delay the decision, Horsham district cabinet members agreed last night Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre should be closed.
The cabinet recommended to full council, which meets on December 21, the centre’s management contract should not be renewed after November 2012, with a view to demolishing the building.
Leaseholders and core users would be consulted about how their needs could be met at other locations and the building closed in a phased approach.
A packed public gallery and more protesters listening in to the meeting from the Capitol listened to the debate.
Questions were raised and statements read by young runner Dan Pettitt, Keith May, chairman of Horsham Blue Star Harriers, Anne Heads and Sheila White of the 50 plus group.
They raised issues like provision of a new athletics track, what brought the sudden decision and the leisure study report being flawed.
Cabinet member of leisure, arts and heritage Jonathan Chowen said: “Today you might think you have lost the battle and go away disappointed” but this was a ‘golden opportunity’ to benefit leisure facilities across the ‘entire district’.
“This is a redeployment of resources to where we want them - what we are really going to need going forward,” he said.
This year the council had already paid for £25,000 for a new lighting system for Broadbridge Heath Football Club as the bulbs needed for the old system no longer existed.
Then came a £300,000 bill for roof repairs and there came the question ‘where are we going to go with Broadbridge Heath’ in these ‘difficult economic times’.
In the last 25 years K2 was built in Crawley and Pavilions in Horsham, along with Christ’s Hospital centre and many private sector sports facilities opening.
Lib Dems Malcolm Curnock (Broadbridge Heath) Frances Haigh (Horsham Park), David Holmes (Horsham Park) criticised the report and questioned how they could make a decision to demolish the building with such a lack of evidence and consultation.
Malcolm Curnock called the study a ‘desk top exercise’ to support the objectives to close the centre when no details of the Broadbridge Heath Quadrant had been revealed.
Group leader David Holmes said it was ‘premature’ to make a decision when there were so many questions still to be answered.
For the full report see next week’s County Times.