Leisure centre future is plunged into doubt

Photo: David Hurst'Leyland Leisure Centre
Photo: David Hurst'Leyland Leisure Centre
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Leyland sports clubs say they fear “chaos” if the town loses its leisure centre

Question marks hang over Leyland leisure centre, along with Bamber Bridge and Penwortham, as South Ribble council begins a major review

of services in the borough.

A report drawn up for the council outlines plans for a new £14.5m facility off Croston Road, Farington Moss – and the potential closure of

Leyland, Bamber Bridge and Penwortham.

Although the council insists this particular report has been thrown out by cabinet members, bosses say all

options – including closures – remain on the table.

John Gibson, who runs squash and racketball groups at Leyland Leisure Centre, said: “We run the only club of its kind in Lancashire with over 60 kids attending each

week, and with players going on to represent England and be number one in the country.

“Any disruption to that would be chaos.”

While Elaine Fitchie, president of Leyland Barracudas swim club, added: “Leyland Barracudas need a line-based pool. They cannot exist without a proper pool on which

racing can take place.”

Leyland Central councillor Derek Forrest said: “Leyland Leisure Centre is something very precious, something the town wanted for years and years.

“I would think that any suggestion of it closing and moving to the Western Parishes out on the Moss, which has poor transport links, would be opposed by every living Leylander.”

Councillor Ken Jones, of St Ambrose ward, said he understood a replacement centre might be built at West Paddock and not a new facility at Farington Moss.

He said: “If closing these facilities resulted in a national class of facilities that included a 50m pool and diving pool and leisure pool, those three altogether, then I think that would be a good thing for South Ribble.

“However, I suspect the proposal is actually to create a cheaper facility that doesn’t match the stuff we’ve got now.”

Elaine Fitchie, president of Leyland Barracudas, said talk of the possible closure of Leyland, where the club is based, was a worry.

“We have about 200-plus members of the local community that use that pool on a weekly basis.

“Yes, you can move to Farington Moss, but it’s going to restrict the people that can engage with us because they’re going to have to have their own transport.”

Coun Phil Smith, South Ribble’s cabinet member with responsibility for regeneration and leisure, said: “One of our grand visions is the creation of a state-of-the-art leisure centre which would offer some of the very best sporting facilities in the region, but I must stress it is just that – a vision.

“If we get to a point where we were looking to pursue it further, it’s certainly not a plan that could evolve overnight and residents, and staff working at our leisure facilities, would be kept fully informed every step of the way and encouraged to have their say.”