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Council approve closure of The Bridge Leisure Centre
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Posts: 458
Joined: Feb 2016
Post: #1
17-01-2021 01:36 PM

Lewisham Council have approved keeping The Bridge Leisure Centre CLOSED.


"At a meeting last night (January 13) mayor and cabinet approved plans not to reopen the Bridge Leisure Centre in Lower Sydenham once Covid-19 restrictions are eased.

The decision came after a warning from the mayor of Lewisham in October that the cost of making the centre Covid-secure might be too great for the council to justify.

It is unclear when or if the centre will open again, but a review is expected later in the year.

Council figures show the Bridge was operating at a deficit of more than £400,000 per year for a long time before the pandemic, which surged to nearly £600,000 in recent years.

The council estimates that to reopen the site in 2021, the Bridge would need an annual subsidy of around £750,000 in revenue, around £450,000 for essential works, with a further £600,000 for works in the first few years of reopening.

Presenting the details Councillor Andre Bourne, joint cabinet member for culture, jobs and skills, said: “There are inherent problems with the Bridge due to the age and design of the building, which have always presented difficulties in the customer experience and quality of the services.

“Originally a private sports and social club, its layout was not designed to be a public leisure centre".

“A full review of leisure services in the Bellingham area will be considered as part of the council’s new physical activity strategy to be shared for public consultation shortly.”

Two residents who use the Bridge spoke about how it has benefited the community and asked that it stay open.

Nissi Adeduntan, who has used the centre for the past 14 years, said the facilities for kids were “fantastic” and that the Bridge was the most affordable option in the borough.

She emphasised the importance of physical and mental health, particularly in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic."

“The Bridge and the staff there for the past 14 years have been absolutely fantastic.

“It’s a family-friendly community place at an affordable level,” she said, adding that the main problems were to do with bad management.

The mum said the leisure centre keeps young people safe, instead of being out on the streets.

Another resident, Megan Banting, told members that a petition to keep the Bridge open was signed by more than 1,000 in four days.

“[The Bridge] has been home to many clubs, community groups, school children, parents, elderly and disabled members of the community and would be a huge loss to the area.

“Closing the centre goes against council priorities, it contradicts a number of health and wellbeing targets in a year where the importance of getting active has never been more prevalent.

“Not only due to the outbreak of Covid but also due to the focus the Prime Minister has placed on tackling obesity.

“There’s a community of people who rely on the bridge to enrich their own lives, as well as their children’s,” she said.

Ms Banting also said the facilities offered at the Bridge cannot be replaced.

The Bridge, located in Bellingham ward, has a 25-metre pool, a teaching pool, a gym, three studios, a three-court sports hall, four squash courts, saunas, two outdoor football pitches/cricket pitch and a small multi-use games area.

When leisure centres reopen, the loss of facilities is not expected to be fully met elsewhere in the borough due to Covid-19 restrictions.

James Lee, director of communities, partnerships and leisure said: “We’ll do everything we can to ensure that demand displaced from the Bridge during this period is met.”

But he added: “The financial details set out in the report are stark, the facilities extremely old.

“In the short-term, as a minimum, it would be extremely difficult to make the environment Covid-safe.

“We are committed to working with the local community as part of the consultation and returning to mayor and cabinet later in this year with further long-term proposals.”

Cllr Bourne thanked the residents and said he would happy to attend any future meetings on the centre.

“Having been a personal user of the Bridge for over three years, it’s a centre that was close to my heart.

“I understand where you’re coming from and going forward I really want to use the strong community voice that we’ve heard on this topic,” he said.

This post was last modified: 17-01-2021 01:42 PM by samuelsen.

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Posts: 458
Joined: Feb 2016
Post: #2
17-01-2021 01:45 PM

What's the likelihood that it will be demolished as the site is large enough to build a housing development there?

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