AddThis SmartLayers

Thousands back regional daily’s bid to save at-risk leisure centres

Thousands of readers have backed a regional daily’s campaign to save under-threat leisure centres on its patch.

Newcastle-based daily The Chronicle has launched the ‘Save Our Leisure Centres’ campaign after Gateshead Council revealed at least two of the facilities it runs look set to close under budget-cutting plans.

Gateshead Leisure Centre, Dunston Leisure Centre, and the sports hall at Birtley Leisure Centre deemed to be under the greatest threat.

The campaign’s launch has sparked a total of 7,419 responses to a public consultation on this issue, ahead of the authority meeting to discuss the issue later this month.

The response to the consultation provided a splash for The Chronicle

The response to the consultation provided a splash for The Chronicle

In an editorial, The Chronicle said: “For weeks, people have been telling us just how catastrophic this could be.

“Closing leisure centres means creating more barriers to exercise for people living in some of the most deprived parts of our region and means there will be fewer places where children can learn to swim.

“It means losing community hubs and places of connection, things that we all know the value of after the isolation of the Covid pandemic, and puts the existence of sports clubs under severe threat.

“It is estimated 40pc of local authority areas in England could be hit with closures or reduced hours over the coming months, due to budget costs and spiralling energy bills.

“Swim England fears that more than 100 pools could be shut down and is campaigning for the Government to offer both short-term support on energy costs and a ring fenced grant for local authorities that will protect investment in leisure services.

“So something needs to be done now before the country faces an epidemic of closures that spread to further areas and put the health of our future generations in jeopardy as they are denied vital services we have all taken for granted in our lifetimes.”