Extra time for Kidsgrove Sports Centre?

Sports CentreNewcastle Borough Council are to seek an extension to the current agreement for the running of Kidsgrove Sports Centre, which runs out in March, despite the facility being well past its ‘best by date’.

The current facility has been dogged with a growing number of forced closures. Newcastle Borough Council are aware of the negative impact that recent closures of the swimming pool has had on the local community and the accessibility to quality swimming opportunities but they still claim they can’t find capital funding to contribute to a new swimming pool despite reasurances last year that a new Sports Centre would be built, and recently voting in favour for two multi-million pound projects in central Newcastle.
They are also anticipating extra running costs of £123,000 for the year (on top of the budgeted £246,000) due to the building condition, site constraints and service disruption from a number of short term closures. The current Joint Use Agreement between the Kings School, Staffordshire County Council and Newcastle Borough Council expires on 31 March 2016 but there are still no concrete plans for refurbishment or replacement of the ageing centre despite the councils’ stated ambitions to re-provide leisure facilities in Kidsgrove. Under the current arrangement the facilities are owned by Staffordshire County Council and managed by Newcastle Borough with a financial contribution from the Kings School of £72,000. A feasability report into the relacement or refurbishment of the centre was completed in December 2014. The report identified the need for a new Sports Centre and leisure facilities in Kidsgrove and the cabinet agreed to proceed though there was a significant funding gap. Site options and type of facility needed to be refined focusing on finding an affordable funding solution which works towards the procurement of a replacement sports centre for Kidsgrove. Site options have know been refined leaving the school site as currently the best development opportunity to provide a range of sports facilities. A cheaper facility option of a ‘constant depth swimming pool’ at a cost of £3m is currently being explored (traditional build is estimated to be £7.7m) and discussions for a Community Use Agreement of the new school sports hall are being undertaken. Many residents expected funding to be made available from the ‘District Deal 2’ announced last autumn which proclaimed that the County Council and Newcastle Borough Council would work together on a number of projects aimed at boosting Newcastle and Kidsgrove town centres; jointly developing a town centre master plan for Kidsgrove and working towards the delivery of a new sports centre and pool in the town. At the time Elizabeth Shenton, Leader of Newcastle Borough Council, said: “The projects are part of the recently-signed joint working agreement between the county and borough authorities, known as District Deal 2, which is focusing on boosting Newcastle and Kidsgrove town centres.” In order to provide continuity of service provision the Borough Council are to seek extending the current agreement for another year until the new school is completed and alternative sources of funding are explored.

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