Holbrook leisure centre manager speaks out over closure

DAMAGE The roof of the Holbrook Leisure Centre in Gosport
DAMAGE The roof of the Holbrook Leisure Centre in Gosport

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A MANAGER of an under-threat leisure centre has spoken out against plans to close it at the end of the month.

Paul Clark, duty manager at the Holbrook Recreation Centre, says the reason for shutting the site several months early is ‘ridiculous.’

Gosport Borough Council says the building has to be shut down early because the roof over the pool was damaged by recent bad weather and is no longer safe.

Mr Clark said: ‘The council said they’ve had a quote of £30,000 on the roof, but I believe that figures between £5,000 and £11,000 have also been mentioned.

‘It’s a ridiculous situation – there’s no need to close.

‘We’ve had problems with leaks for years, but we would put a couple of buckets down and get on with it – no-one moaned. They’ve put this plastic sheeting down as a temporary measure and ironically since this quick fix was put in we haven’t had a problem with the rain.’

The centre’s 44 staff are to be made redundant. But the company taking over the new leisure centre being built nearby has agreed to give every employee an interview.

So far more than 2,000 people have already signed a petition calling on the council to keep the existing centre going until the new one opens in October or November.

Mr Clark added: ‘There’s a lot of bad feeling about the way it’s been done. We had promises that jobs would be safe and would be transferred to the new centre, but now everyone is going to be laid off. We want people to come and give us their constructive views so we can take that to the meeting on Tuesday.

‘We have had builders and roofers who have said if we get the materials, they’ll do the work for nothing just to keep it open.’

An emergency council meeting has been called for next Tuesday at 6pm, after Labour councillors forced a debate on the matter.

Centre supporters are going to meet at the ferry terminal at 5pm on Tuesday and march up High Street to the civic offices where they will present the petition to the meeting.

Labour group leader Cllr Dennis Wright said: ‘There’s been a lot of public outrage about the way it’s been handled by just a few councillors and council officers.

‘It certainly needs looking at in more detail and we’re doing all that we can.’

Centre user Linda Jaques, 53, added: ‘We need to get as many people as possible to back the centre.’

Forms for the petition can be picked up from the centre.