Leisure Centre to shut after rain and floods cause £1.2 million of damage
The centre was closed last month because of the flooding - but an emergency council meeting could see it closed for good.
South Kesteven District Council’s cabinet will consider the findings of a new report on the building structure which has confirmed that, amongst the other work necessary, a total replacement of the roof is the only option to ensure the building becomes safe and watertight. The total cost of the work identified in the report is estimated at £1.2million.
In addition, further sums would have to be committed to cover the replacement of the air handling unit and the remedial works to the pool tank. The report also confirms that all of the remedial work identified would only bring the centre back into operation and would not result in an enhancement to the existing building.
However, independent councillors are calling for a rethink, and the facility to stay open, and have launched an online petition to save the site.
Any investment into the current Leisure Centre would also carry a significant risk as the Council currently has no security of tenure over the building and the building will continue to deteriorate in line with its age.
The leisure facility has been managed by South Kesteven District Council since it was built in 1974, while the building and land is owned by Lincolnshire County Council.
Following the receipt of the Building Conditions Report, both Councils have agreed that Deepings Leisure Centre is now past its economic and operational life and, considering the significant imminent health and safety risk, the most suitable option is for the Council to cease the operation of the building as soon as possible.
Barry Dobson, Deputy Leader of South Kesteven District Council and Cabinet Member for Leisure said: “Deepings Leisure Centre is reaching the end of its operational life and, considering the significant imminent health and safety risk, we must urgently discuss the future viability of this building.
“While the report highlighted no immediate health and safety concerns at the time, the recent torrential rain has accelerated the deterioration of the building and regrettably forced us to close the centre temporarily.
“People’s safety is our most important concern, but we do recognise the impact of the potential closure of this important community facility.
“The report and recent temporary closure of the building highlights the need for a new Leisure Centre in the Deepings. There is an ongoing shared ambition between the Council and Lincolnshire County Council to provide a replacement leisure centre in the Deepings and to identify a suitable location. Talks are continuing between the two councils to explore all possibilities.”
Lincolnshire County Council has confirmed that, if the Leisure Centre ceases its operation, its primary focus will be to ensure The Deepings School, who also uses the buildings, can continue to use the facilities, such as the sports hall and its changing rooms.
James Drury, Director of Commercial, Lincolnshire County Council said: “We are aware of the challenges facing the Deepings Leisure Centre buildings, which are coming to the end of their operational life.
“As a priority, we will be working with all parties to ensure that in the short term the school has an appropriate venue for exams and PE lessons.
“If the decision is made to close the Leisure Centre, we will also all be working towards keeping as many sporting facilities open as possible for the community with all partners involved, while a long-term permanent solution is explored. In the longer term we will support SKDC as they consider the future options for leisure centre provision in the area and have offered county council land on Millfield Road as a potential new site.
“We will also be working with Anthem Trust regarding how best to re-instate a fit for purpose school sports hall for The Deepings Academy.”
Cllr Virginia Moran said: “Deepings has been dealt a terrible double-whammy: As well as breaking their promise to build a new Deepings Leisure Centre, the Conservatives intend making the ‘temporary’ closure of the existing facility permanent, leaving our community with facilities and 22 people uncertain about their jobs. This would never have been allowed to happen in Grantham or Stamford. The people of Deepings deserve better.
“That’s why we’re launching a petition this afternoon on Change.org calling on the District Council to urgently repair and reopen the existing Centre and commit to agreeing a suitable site and building the promised new one without further delay.
Cllr Phil Dilks said: “At the district elections two years ago, the Conservatives clung to control of the council by promising new Leisure Centres in The Deepings and Stamford. They quietly dumped their commitment to Stamford: now they’re also breaking their promise to The Deepings. Every Conservative elected on these solemn promises should hang their heads in shame. They can never be trusted again.
Cllr Ashley Baxter added: “In the county council elections only three months ago, the Conservatives claimed ‘funds and land have now been agreed’ for the new Deepings Leisure Centre: Sadly not true.
“No amount of expletives can adequately express my utter disappointment and outrage at the sheer betrayal and downright lies pedalled by this incompetent Conservative administration.
While the Centre is closed, all outdoor facilities, such as the football and rugby pitches on Linchfield Road, will remain available for use. However, indoor facilities will be unavailable for public use.
LeisureSK Ltd currently employs six full-time and 22 part-time and casual members of staff at Deepings Leisure Centre. All staff have been informed of the condition of the building and the report going before Cabinet.