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Public meeting called over under threat Penwortham Leisure Centre

Posted on - 21st April, 2009 - 6:27pm | Author - | Posted in - Recreation

The Leisure Centre in Penwortham could be set to close after a dual-use agreement between a local school and the local authority could be withdrawn.

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The headteacher and governers of Priory Sports and Technology College no longer feel it is safe for pupils.

South Ribble Borough Council has been trying to reach an agreement with the College or seek an alternative but has so far been unsuccessful.

The Council has called a public meeting on the matter for 7 PM on Thursday 23rd April 2009 at St Mary’s Church Hall, Cop Lane, Penwortham. At the meeting will beCouncillor David Suthers, cabinet member with responsibility for leisure and culture will be there along with Councillor Stephen Robinson, chairman of the Penwortham Area Committee, and other Penwortham ward councillors.

The council has also invited representatives of South Ribble Community Leisure, which runs the council’s leisure centres; and the head teacher and school governors from Priory Sports and Technology College.

Residents can also have their say on a discussion forum on the Council website and there has been dismay from residents about the proposals with 18 residents already voicing their opinion.

One resident, Jayne Yates, said:

We also wonder how many incidents of possible danger to pupils have occured in the last 35 years? We should be encouraging people to use these facilities and get fit and healthy for life, encourage our children to take part in all the activities offered and keep them occupied, safe and away from dangerous situations created by boredom. We do not live locally to Penwortham Leisure Centre, yet travel around 8 miles each way at least twice per week to use the centre the reason for this is that we have found this centre offers the best activities and swimming lessons for our children, the friendliest staff who are always happy to help and advise. As a family we have used the facilities for over 15 years we have 4 children 18, 17, 6 and 7 months, the eldest 2 learnt to swim securely and confidently here prompting us to enroll our nervous 6 year old into swimming lessons, who now swims confidentally after the fantastic nurturing he was given by his instructor, Sarah, if the centre stays open i will be joining water babies and hopefully we will have 4 strong swimmers.

Another Neil Jones said:

Exactly what are these ‘perceived risks to the pupils’? This appears to be a result of an over-zealous risk-assessment that is desperately trying to cover every possible angle. The school will have succeeded in their blinkered approach by shutting off the leisure centre. However, if this line of crazy over-the-top thinking is extended, surely the school will have to ban all interactions between pupils and staff (in case of inappropriate relationships), ban travelling to and from school (in case of accidents), ban any eating at school (in case of choking), etc, etc. It is not possible to eliminate ALL risks and the school must maintain a BALANCED approach to risk assessing. The huge damage caused by the closure of such an excellent community facility far outweighs any potential negligible benefits to pupil safety.

Priory Sports and Technology College have released a statement on their website explaining why they want to end the dual use agreement and giving more background information in support of their decision.

It states:

Discussions have been ongoing with South Ribble Borough Council and the Local Authority for over 3 years to update the last officially recognised Dual Use Agreement (DUA), which dates from 1993.

That agreement does not reflect the present situation on the site nor is it appropriate in the present social climate surrounding children. The issue of Safeguarding of Children on a Dual Use site has always been the primary concern of the School and Governors.

It’s all set to be a rather stormy public meeting, and Preston Blog will be down there to cover what happens and all the reaction from residents, the council and the school.

Map of St Mary’s Church Hall, Penwortham:

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