Friday 30 September 2011

Newham Council To Close Atherton Leisure Centre

More evidence of the true face of the Olympic "sporting legacy", as Newham council has announced that it plans to shut down the Atherton Leisure Centre in Stratford on December 31st 2011.

In a statement on the council's website, it says that the closure is the result of "spiralling costs for the repair of the ceiling over the centre's main pool and an estimated maintenance requirement of more than £2.2 million over the next ten years". Mayor Sir Robin Wales insists that the council is committed "to providing a new facility with a pool as quickly as possible and we want people to have a say in what else might go in it", adding:.

"We would like to have kept the centre open while we look at all the options but we simply cannot afford to do that. It would be foolish and a complete waste of money. We need to replace the leisure facility. Doing repairs is money down the drain."

However, minutes of a council meeting on 22 September [PDF] make clear that "at present there is no identified capital funding for the new facility [to replace the Atherton Centre], and no external investment has been secured". It adds that "here is significant risk that the capital financing will not be secured for a replacement facility".

Council officers also acknowledge that there is insufficient capacity within other facilities in the borough to cope with the closure of the Atherton Centre - there will be severe problems in accommodating the School Swimming Lesson Programme that currently uses the Atherton pool to full capacity, as well as 81 private swimming lessons and aerobics classes, fitness sessions and football clubs.

The Atherton Centre has approximately 240 000 visits a year, 23% of the borough total visits to Leisure Centres. Its loss, with no concrete plans for a replacement, will have a significant impact on leisure facilities locally and it will cost local taxpayers £80,000 to decommission the building. The planned closure also seems to have been in part influenced by the end of the current contract with Greenwich Leisure Ltd, who currently tun the centre. Meanwhile, the planned opening of the Olympic Pool to the public is not due to take place until 2014. So what happens over the next two years?

Tomorrow , a protest is planned to show the council that local people are not prepared to accept the closure of a popular community resource. Meet outside the Atherton Centre (189 Romford Road) at 11am.


Anonymous said...

Ok, so we have spent £100million for new Council Offices (Building 1000)and then £18millon on refurbishing them, but someone forgot to keep aside £2m to fix our swimming pool.


Anonymous said...

And of course the mayor is happy to find £40 million to bung West Ham to help them secure the Olympic Stadium.

It says a lot for the priorities of the Newham Labour party that it doesn't have to think twice before handing over £40 million to a couple of multi-millionaires to finance their football club, but it can't find £2.2 million to provide leisure facilities for local people.

Anonymous said...

I just read Newham Council is going to buy up local houses to become a big property landlord. Where are they going to get the money for all this?

Dr Charlotte Cooper said...

There is now an e-petition for Atherton. Please sign and circulate.

Dr Charlotte Cooper said...

Please ignore the previous petition and use this one instead, it is directed to the Prime Minister.

Sorry for the confusion.

Anonymous said...

Just heard a fantastic interview on Atherton:

Anonymous said...

Also found another link regarding Atherton:

Did not know Westfield got £200million.

Anonymous said...

Just received a message -->>>>

Cyclists, swimmers, gym users - unite; we have nothing to lose.... well everything if this council gets its way: see our website: Today petitioning outisde Wilkinsons in Stratford.

Next week 15/10/11: The People vs Robin Wales outside the Atherton from 11:00am, come in Lycra and show the Mayor we can run sports better than him. Spread the word.

Anonymous said...

There is an article in the Newham Recorder (20 October 2011) about Atherton....

Anonymous said...

I went to hear Robin Wales at the Mayor's question time. He was determined to shut the Atherton down and build a new facility in its place.

The Mayor admitted he had not used the facility and had not been there in years, except for a function which was a long time ago.

He explained the cost of asbestoes removal and refurbishement was money down the drain. Even though, the public was in favour of saving the building and the heritage. The cost of a new buidling would exceed, the cost of refurbishment the existing building.

I must admit the public was very furious and feelings running high.

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