Gosport leisure centre staff want council U-turn over sudden closure

FIXABLE? Picture of damage done to the Holbrook Leisure Centre in Gosport

FIXABLE? Picture of damage done to the Holbrook Leisure Centre in Gosport

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STAFF at Gosport’s leisure centre have hit out at the decision to close the building months before it was due to shut.

Gosport Borough Council plans to close the town’s pool and gym, in Forest Way, at the end of this month.

Workers there were also told they had been made redundant and would have to apply for jobs at the new centre, which is being built nearby.

The council says the building has to be closed because its roof is unsafe.

But several leisure centre workers have told The News the roof is safe and there is no health and safety risk.

One of them, who did not want to be named, said: ‘I was upset and I was angry because the council said we would have a job.

‘We are unhappy with the way we’ve been treated.

‘They are saying it’s health and safety but then why haven’t they closed it down immediately?

‘There’s not a risk. We have had lots of rain and it’s been fine.’

A petition calling for the centre to stay open has also received more than 500 signatures.

If the closure goes ahead at the end of the month, people in Gosport could go for up to five months without a pool.

Another member of staff, who wanted to remain anonymous, said: ‘Obviously we want to keep it open for our jobs but also for the people in the local area as well.

‘We all know Holbrook is falling to pieces but it’s coming up to summer now and kids have nothing to do.

‘There’s nothing wrong with the roof.’

The leader of Gosport’s Labour opposition group, Cllr Dennis Wright, is calling for an urgent council meeting to discuss the decision to close Holbrook early.

He said: ‘We’re coming up to the Olympics and various clubs have been thrust out with no notice and nowhere to go.

‘The whole council needs to meet and they need to look at it more carefully.

‘I agree we can’t spend £30,000 on a new roof but we have managed to keep Holbrook going for years now with roof problems, I’m sure we can keep it going another five months.’

The council’s leader, Cllr Mark Hook, said he was not aware of any assurances being made over jobs.

He said the council was not in a position to make promises to Holbrook staff as they are not employed by the council.

‘Whatever pressure we can put on new operators DC Leisure to re-employ we will, but that’s all we can do,’ said Cllr Hook.

‘I’m not prepared to put the safety of the public or the staff at risk.

‘It’s a temporary repair and it won’t last the next five months.

‘People saw water running down the walls.’

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