THE SPORTS hall on the site of the Bromsgrove Sport and Leisure Centre will be bulldozed after the district council voted through the cabinet’s recommendation this evening.
Now £600,000 will be released from the authority’s capital funds to pay for the demolition.
The building had been given a four-week stay of execution at the last meeting after disputes about the accuracy of the figures for the potential revenue a sports hall would generate and whether a third party could be found to run it.
There had also been an extra letter of objection from a Bromsgrove GP. He said in the council’s own district plan it had vowed to do what it could to encourage and help residents stay healthy and get fit and the demolition of the hall was going against that promise.
It was revealed by the Labour councillors during tonight’s meeting that a leisure company had come forward and expressed an interest in running the sports hall which was confirmed by Coun Peter Whittaker, who is responsible for leisure.
An amendment was put forward by Labour leader Coun Michael Thompson asking for a further stay of execution for three months so the option could be investigated and discussed.
That was defeated by 14 votes to eight with all the Conservative members voting against it and all Labour and independents voting ‘for’.
Coun Thompson then tabled another amendment asking for an adjournment of two months and 20 days to consider the option. He said the authority was ‘in the last chance saloon’ and he pleaded with Conservative group members to reconsider their stance, saying knocking down the sports hall would split the community and community groups. That amendment was also defeated.
After that Coun Kate Van Der Plank said: “This is the most frustrating time I have had as a councillor.
“All that was being asked was for us to wait three months to look at this option which has come forward.
“We have to think about the bigger picture.”
“Appealing to councillors she said: “You have to look to your conscience and heart before you go and send in the bulldozers.”
Coun Whittaker said the council had already invested £13.7million in a new leisure centre for the people of Bromsgrove and added the current sports hall was not Sport England compliant. He also claimed there were problems with detaching the sports hall from the old Dolphin Centre which needed to be bulldozed.
In answer to a question about the leisure organisation which had expressed an interest in the sports hall, Coun Whittaker confirmed he had received an email this afternoon but would not be following it up. He said the issue had come before council many times before and it must ‘now be put to bed’.
Coun Brian Cooper, the cabinet member responsible for finance, said it would be ‘irresponsible’ to spend £2.5million to £2.8million from the authority’s balances at this time of financial uncertainty.
At a previous meeting it was revealed to have built a new sports hall when the sports and leisure centre was constructed would have only cost the council an extra million. The costs had spiralled because it was having to be done as a ‘stand-alone’ project.
In summing up the motion, Coun Cooper said: “The emotive things brought up are impressive but not relevant – we are where we are.”
He added when in power, controlling groups had to make difficult and unpopular decisions and the authority needed to press on with demolishing the sports hall.
The motion was passed by 13 votes to nine with one abstention and the hall will now be demolished.
Campaigners outside the chamber called it ‘disgraceful’ and slammed the council for not putting off the decision so discussions could take place with the leisure organisation which had expressed an interest.
They also criticised the Conservative councillors for the way they voted, saying party politics should not come into a decision like this – members should vote individually for the good of the people they represented.
Nigel Perfett said: ‘A lifeline was thrown to the sports hall and the councillors should have at least considered it.”
They thanked the Labour and independents councillors for all the support they had given during the campaign.
- What do you think? Should the council pay the extra £2.5million to £2.8million for a new sports hall? Or, like Coun Cooper and the cabinet, maybe you feel the expenditure cannot be justified? Email your views to email@example.com