Below are an assortment of views that the people of Penwortham, and the surrounding area, expressed at the public meeting about the potential closure of Penwortham Leisure Centre.Advertisement
A man who worked for the company that look after the leisure centre said:
The security of the general public at the centre is taken very seriously. I look upon the site more as a leisure centre and community centre than as part of the school.
A male resident with a child at Priory College said:
The council has a child safety officer, has the child safety officer seen any evidence that the leisure centre poses a risk to children? I also believe the school encourages pupils to make use of the facilities when members of the public are known to be in there, isn’t this contradictory? Why haven’t the council and school agreed to do something more than three years ago if the agreement dates from 1993? As a parent, I have not received any communication about this from the college until now, why?
A female resident, who spoke on behalf of her whole family that use the leisure centre, said:
I’m upset and apalled that you think we all need CRB checks for any of us to use the leisure centre while children are there.
A male representative from the local branch of the English Squash and Racquet Club said:
This decision doesn’t make sense. Look at the growth we’re starting to see in people taking up sport and exercise and we’ve got £1 million of funding to do it. We need to utilise facilities in these leisure centres more rather than have them closed during the day.
A female resident said:
I am very concerned even if the centre closes during the day. I take my child to the swimming group during the day, what provision will there be for mums and toddlers swimming lessons if the centre does close its doors to the public? The closure would be a severe disavantage to the local community and also could alienate the school from the local community.
William Hague, a resident from Longton who has been using the centre for 15 years, said:
What sort of figure is the school expecting the local authority to find to fund the proposed work needed? I’ve heard a figure of around £2 million. Also, Fulwood High School has a leisure centre attached and yet their agreement seems to work well, why can this not happen at Penwortham?
The headteacher replied that the school was only looking for an investment of around £250,00 – a figure quoted by the County Council – for investment in a multi-use sports area such as astroturf pitches.
David Burrows, the MP for South Ribble, said:
I have been involved in this issue for some time and I chaired a meeting in February 2008 to try and get a resolution. All we want to see if our children safe and the facilities available to the public during the day. If this dispute is about child protection what physical issues are there that need to be solved to set the child protection issues right? I met Ed Balls, education minister, earlier today and he said that if we needed a senior officer with expertise in dual use agreements, then we could have one visit us and try and help us seek an agreement. The three parties have got to sort this out for the sake of the people of Penwortham.
A local resident said:
I find it very interested what the headteacher had to say. I think there is an underlying agenda here, does the school want sole use of the leisure centre so that it can let it out and derive income? Also, as I recall, £80,000 was collected, of public money, to build that leisure centre in the first place so it is the people’s leisure centre.
A local resident, who is also a mother, said:
We’ve talked a lot about safeguarding children, and it is about prevention. It is not about ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’, it’s about making sure the right prevention methods are in place to protect our children. I know how manipulative councillors can be, but the safety of children must be put first.
Ruth Sharpe, a local resident and who works at the University of Central Lancashire, said:
Clearly the needs of the community need to be met. Just look around this room, we have an ageing population and a facility like this is needed to take the strain off the NHS. All of you across the board need to sort this out.
A female local resident, said:
If you do get an agreement by August, will it be a permanent agreement or will we just be back here again having this debate further down the line?
A female resident presented 690 letters of objection from local residents, a lot of them young people, about the proposed closure. There was also mention of the Facebook group that local residents had set up to save the leisure centre. She said:
I hope I can give these to you and you read them. A lot of people have taken the time to write these and I hope it shows you how people feel.
Stuart Cohen, a pupil at Priory College, said:
While there hasn’t been an issue yet at the college, anyone can still wander around and as pupils who knows what could happen. Our safety is surely the most important thing.
This is just a selection of the views that were aired throughout the meeting, that lasted nearly 2 hours.