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The Save the Deepings Leisure Centre group asks South Kesteven District Council for £850,000 fuelling concerns it could affect sites in Stamford, Bourne and the Deepings





A council has been asked to approve funding of £850,000 to save a leisure centre - despite fears it could cause others to close.

The future of the Deepings Leisure Centre has been back up for discussion at South Kesteven District Council this week, starting with a joint meeting of the scrutiny committees for finance and leisure yesterday (January 9).

The council-run facility closed in 2021 due to serious safety concerns caused by a leaky roof and has stood empty ever since.

Deepings Leisure Centre. Photo: David Pearson
Deepings Leisure Centre. Photo: David Pearson

After agreeing to refurbish it, South Kesteven District Council ditched plans to spend £10.7 million on repairs to the leisure centre in Deeping St James claiming they could not afford it and handed responsibility back to owner Lincolnshire County Council.

Now an option is on the table for the facility to be refurbished and reopened by a community group, which is asking for one-off funding of £850,000 from South Kesteven District Council.

Speaking at the scrutiny committee, Coun Paul Wood (Ind) said: “We have leisure centres in Grantham, Bourne and Stamford which are currently operational.

The swimming pool is gathering water. Photo: Lambert Smith Hampton estate agents
The swimming pool is gathering water. Photo: Lambert Smith Hampton estate agents

“They were built a long time ago and all want a considerable amount of money spending on them.

“Can we afford to spend all of this money on the Deepings and refurbish Grantham, Bourne and Stamford at the same time?

“It is a wider district so we need to make sure these leisure centres are representative as a whole.”

Coun Gloria Johnson (Con) added: “It is great we want to reopen it but we have three leisure centres of our own.

Deepings Leisure Centre campaigners Coun Phil Dilks, Sam Peeroo, Andy Pelling, Paul Swift, Donna Buckland, Roy and Sue Stephenson and Coun Ashley Baxter outside the closed Deepings Leisure Centre. Photo: David Pearson
Deepings Leisure Centre campaigners Coun Phil Dilks, Sam Peeroo, Andy Pelling, Paul Swift, Donna Buckland, Roy and Sue Stephenson and Coun Ashley Baxter outside the closed Deepings Leisure Centre. Photo: David Pearson

“We will end up with a leisure centre of our own perhaps closing because people will go back to where they were.”

At the time of announcing the closure of the Deepings Leisure Centre, South Kesteven District Council’s then Tory-led administration pledged to continue to support its leisure facilities in Stamford, Bourne and Grantham, despite financial difficulties.

All three leisure centres lose the council hundreds of thousands of pounds a year due to maintenance costs and not making a profit.

Previous plans for new leisure centres in Stamford and the Deepings were released by the district council in March 2019, alongside a Conservative election campaign, and a preferred site for a new Deepings centre was expected to cost £15m at this time.

Cabinet member for finance Coun Ashley Baxter (Ind) responded that there is enough money, including funds in the new budget to repair the roof of Bourne’s leisure centre.

Chief finance officer Richard Wyles shared some of the councillors’ the financial concerns. He told how officers weren’t sure the community group’s cost calculations were realistic and the council had to look at it in a more pessimistic way.

Coun Tim Harrison (Ind – Grantham St Wulfram’s) encouraged members to support the funding. He said: “£850,000 could be spent and we have a leisure centre to show for it or possibly double to demolish it and have nothing.”

Coun Bridget Ley (Ind – Deeping St James) added that a lot of people cannot afford to travel to other leisure centres.

It was a tied vote on whether to ask for full council’s approval at a meeting tomorrow (Thursday). Chairperson Coun Ley had the casting decision and voted to recommend the £850,000 funding for approval.

A final decision will be made at the meeting tomorrow, which is being streamed and can be watched here. https://moderngov.southkesteven.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=261&MId=4539

What do you think? Share your views in the comments.



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