Why couldn’t a way be found to keep centre open?

LAWRENCE MURPHY: A worthy alternative to roasties?

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FEW issues can have caused so much debate in Gosport recently as the closure of the Holbrook leisure centre amid claims that damage to the roof could pose a risk to users.

A major bone of contention has been the way in which the decision was made swiftly by leading councillors in consultation with officers, rather than by a committee or the full council.

It seems to us that this is a difficult one to argue either way.

Certainly if there is a perceived risk to the public then urgent action should be taken and we should expect our leading councillors and town hall officers to do that.

In this case, though, there have been considerable arguments that the closure was not needed, not least from the duty manager of Holbrook, who says the reason for shutting the site several months early is ‘ridiculous.’

Let’s give Paul Clark the credit for being able to speak from an informed point of view as he says that leaks in the roof at Holbrook – soon to be replaced by a purpose-built centre – are nothing new and have been adequately and safely dealt with in the past.

He is understandably upset that more than 40 people who work at the centre are being made redundant by the decision to close early, their livelihoods put at risk by a move that many say could and should have been avoided.

That decision has now been ratified by a meeting of councillors at which members of the ruling Tory group endorsed the closure decision despite protests from political rivals.

Ultimately we believe that where there is a will, there is a way, and a better fist could have been made of keeping Holbrook running for the next few months, or of showing unequivocally that the roof was not repairable at a reasonable cost to the public purse.

As it is, the leisure centre’s door have been shut just as Gosport prepares to host the Olympic torch on its journey around the country.

There is no little irony in this and we share the sorrow of Holbrook campaigners that a means was not found to keep the centre open, whatever the problems encountered by leading councillors.