Consultants admit ‘damage’ to council’s reputation in Olympic year

CONSULTANTS who have drawn up a ‘Leisure Futures Study’ for Horsham District Council admit any attempt to close the athletics track at Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre ‘would cause significant reputational damage to the council’ - especially in the year of the London Olympics.

The leisure centre is playing host to a team from the Caribbean nation of Grenada as part of the 2012 Games - and a surge in demand for sporting activities is expected after the Olympics.

Meanwhile, in their report to the council, the consultants state that the track and indoor training facilities have been ‘largely overtaken by facilities in Crawley and Worthing’.

They add: “The track meets an important local need for clubs and junior county athletics and any attempt to close it, particularly in the run up to and the legacy period after London 2012, at which athletics is likely to be a major attraction, would cause significant reputational damage to the council.

“Relocation could be considered in the medium term.”

The consultants are urging that the outdoor athletics track should be ‘retained at present and consideration should be given to alternative management options in the short term’.

“Medium term relocation possibilities for the track will also need to be considered. The indoor athletics facilities are in poor condition like the rest of the building and are overlarge for the current levels of use; they should therefore be removed as part of the removal of the main structure.”

And, the consultants say, the council needs to make sure it can cope with increased demand for sporting facilities after the Olympics, and be able to benefit from sports funding.

They add: “Horsham will need to have plans and strategies in place to help to achieve the anticipated increase in participation as a result of the Games and to benefit from the various legacy funding streams recently announced by Sport England and the Government.”

Last May, the Grenada Olympic Association confirmed its plans to use Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre as its pre-Games training camp in the two to three weeks leading up to the London 2012 Olympic Games.

The Pavilions in the Park, Horsham, may also be used as a training base for the team swimmers.