South Kesteven District Council leaders want to close Deepings Leisure Center over “serious health and safety concerns” after repair costs hit £ 1.2million.
However, independent advisers accused the Tory leadership of going back on their word on the plans. The independents have started a petition saying that “Deepings deserves better than the Tories’ broken promises, betrayals, incompetence and outright lies,” as they call on the council to rethink the closure plans.
The petition calls for £ 1.4million to be allocated for repairs to the existing building, with a further £ 600,000 set aside for ongoing maintenance over the next four years. They also said that if a new recreation center is to open, it should be no later than early 2025.
Virginia Moran, SKDC advisor for the market and West Deeping and deputy mayor of the city, said Lincolnite that the petition already had over 100 signatures in the first hour. That number rose to over 500 early Friday evening.
The Deepings Leisure Center, run by the town hall since it was built in 1974, was closed for safety reasons after rainwater leaks on Tuesday, July 27. It will now be the subject of an emergency Cabinet meeting on August 17 after an investigation revealed extensive repair and remediation work.
LeisureSK Ltd currently employs six full-time and 22 part-time and casual employees at the Deepings Leisure Center. All staff have been briefed on the condition of the building and the report submitted to Cabinet, and opportunities will be explored to redeploy assigned staff to the three remaining recreation centers of the District Council.
Councilor Moran said: “Deepings suffered a terrible double whammy. In addition to breaking their promise to build a new Deepings Recreation Center, the Conservatives intend to make the “temporary” closure of the existing facility permanent, leaving our community without facilities and 22 dedicated employees facing an uncertain future.
“It would never have been allowed to happen in Grantham or Stamford. The people of Deepings deserve better.
Councilor Phil Dilks said: “Every Tory elected on these solemn promises should bow their heads in shame. We can never trust them again.
A report submitted to Cabinet next week said a total roof replacement is the only option to keep the building safe, and the cost would be estimated at over £ 1.2million.
The building and land are owned by Lincolnshire County Council and the facility is managed by the District Council.
County and district councils have agreed that the recreation center has now passed its economic and operational lifespan and that there is a significant imminent risk to health and safety.
The report states that the district council wishes to close the recreation center in its current building with effect from September 1, 2021.
Barry Dobson, deputy head of South Kesteven district council and cabinet member for recreation, said to temporarily close the center.
“Personal safety is our most important concern, but we recognize the impact of the potential closure of this important community facility.
“The report and the recent temporary closure of the building underscore the need for a new recreation center in the deep.
“There is a common and continuing ambition between Lincolnshire Council and County Council to ensure that an alternative leisure center is established in the Deepings and to identify a suitable location. “
All outdoor facilities, such as the football and rugby fields on Litchfield Road, will remain available.
Lincolnshire County Council has said that if the recreation center goes out of business it will support the Deepings School, which is also using the buildings, to ensure a suitable gym solution in the short term. He will also work with Anthem Trust on how best to re-establish a school gym suitable for The Deepings Academy use.
County Council has also proposed land on Millfield Road as a potential site for a new recreation center, but independent activists don’t think this is a viable option as this area is still protected in the neighborhood plan.