Campaign victory as Shropshire leisure centres saved
The future of two threatened leisure centres in south Shropshire has been secured in a major victory for community campaigners.
Shropshire Council will end its contract with Teme Leisure next year and bring SpArC in Bishop’s Castle and Church Stretton Leisure Centre back under its direct management.
Both centres have been threatened with closure in recent years due to council budget cuts, prompting the launch of the Save the SpArC and Stretton Pool Action campaigns.
Their voices were heard, and the strength of public feeling in the two towns was cited by the council as the reason it was confident in taking the centres forward.
“We definitely see this as good news – three years ago we thought that the centre was going to close,” said Jean Shirley, chairwoman of the SpArC trustees.
“The campaign has now been going for more than two years and it is amazing that people have stuck with it.”
The council is now seeking the views of residents in shaping the future of the services with a questionnaire. Enterprise South West Shropshire will continue to run the SpArC theatre.
The council said the decision came after a review of its leisure facilities concluded that the arrangement with Teme was “outdated”.
The contract will end on March 31, 2020, by which point the Church Stretton and SpArC sites will be back under the council’s management.
Lezley Picton, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for culture and leisure, said: “We know for certain that in Bishop’s Castle and Church Stretton there is support from the community to develop and use the facilities.”
However, the announcement has cast doubt over the futures of the two other facilities currently managed by Teme – South Shropshire Leisure Centre in Ludlow and Cleobury Mortimer Sports Centre.
The council said negotiations would now begin over future management at those sites.