More than 1,500 people have signed a petition calling for the operators of West View Leisure Centre to re-open the centre.Advertisement
Luke Parkinson, who says he is running as an independent MP for Preston in 2024, is one of those trying to save West View, in Ribbleton Lane, from permanent closure.
The Ribbleton-based pool, gym and climbing wall closed in March due to lockdown and its operator Greenwich Leisure Limited, who run the Better Leisure brand, said spiralling costs meant West View would not re-open in August.
GLL said it had taken the decision to re-open Fulwood Leisure Centre and had entered into consultation with staff at West View.
Mr Parkinson received more than 1,500 signatures before the petition closed and he is preparing to re-open the petition due to the volume of support he says he is receiving.
Luke Parkinson said: “Preston City Council sold this leisure centre to Better leisure as part of cost-cutting and in my opinion, it has been run down ever since and in these uncertain times with Covid 19 where people need somewhere to go that is good for your health, affordable and accessible for everyone.
“To my knowledge no local councillors or the local MP were mentioning anything about the leisure centre situation apart from a few local media articles saying it would not be opening for the foreseeable future.
“There is little else positive to do in this part of Preston where there are only betting shops, cafes, hairdressers, and charity shops, which isn’t enough for the locals to use and gain exercise to help them with their own wellbeing.”
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One local teacher who signed the petition said: “School swimming is also affected, and it is a national curriculum requirement to allow swimming in Key Stage 2 with an expectation that children leave primary school being able to swim 25 metres.
“How are any schools that used this pool to be able to achieve this?”
Luke has sent letters to Preston City Council and GLL that run the centre and is awaiting a response.
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GLL’s regional director for Preston, Gareth Kirk, previously told Blog Preston when the decision was announced in late August: “The reality is, without financial support from either local or national Government, we could only continue to operate in the city if we took action to cut our operating costs.
“Reducing leisure services and so staff numbers is not a decision [to close West View] we have taken lightly. But we believe this is the best available option for Preston. It will allow us to continue to operate Fulwood Leisure Centre and retain as many staff as possible.”
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West View leisure centre had a £500,000 refurbishment in recent years after being transferred to Greenwich Leisure Limited in May 2017, where improvement were made to the changing rooms, studio, gym and new equipment.
Before the transfer to GLL in 2017, Blog Preston reported on how West View alone was costing the city council £2.4million-a-year to run and the city council said it had been considering closing either West View or Fulwood to save money.
Commenting on the West View decision in late August, Preston City Council’s cabinet member for leisure and culture, councillor Peter Kelly, had expressed his ‘disappointment’ with the West View situation.
He also said: “We are in continued dialogue with GLL and look forward to solutions being found in order to reopen this valuable community asset.”
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