Peer in visit to Shropshire leisure centres facing cutbacks

A prominent peer will visit Shropshire to talk about the threat facing leisure centres attached to schools in the county.

Peer in visit to Shropshire leisure centres facing cutbacks

Lord Mike Storey is the Lib Dem spokesman on education in the House of Lords and will be visiting two south Shropshire towns whose leisure centres both receive funding via schools, and face a shortfall of tens of thousands of pounds due to cuts.

Lord Storey, who was a headteacher and also leader of Liverpool City Council, is expected to visit Church Stretton on January 22, where the future of the town's swimming pool is being reviewed.

He will then visit Norbury Primary School, near Bishop's Castle area, and the SpArC Centre in Bishop's Castle, which is also threatened by cuts.

Fears for the future of SpArC, which includes a gym, squash courts and sports facilities alongside the swimming pool, were first raised by Alan Doust, headteacher of Bishop's Castle Community College, which makes use of the centre.

Lord Storey said: "I am delighted to be coming to Shropshire. I have been alerted to the problems facing swimming pools in the market towns and look forward to finding out about it in person.

"Sports centres are vital to our communities." They are also important to schools because they are part of the attraction a school can offer.

"It is unlikely that this problem is restricted to Shropshire. I shall be extending my concern to other rural counties, to see what approaches are being taken there."

Charlotte Barnes, Shropshire Councillor for Bishop's Castle, said: "Our leisure centres contribute to the well-being of our residents, they help to keep people healthy and happy.

"They must save the care budgets a fortune and of course they are one of the few places to offer young people activities in our more isolated areas.

"I welcome Mike's helping to raise the profile of our rural facilities.

"Everybody in Shropshire Council is concerned to find a way forward for these rural leisure centres."

Supporters of the SpArC centre were assured Shropshire Council had "no hidden agenda" to shut it when a petition signed by 2,500 people was presented at a full meeting of Shropshire Council at Shirehall in December.

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