THE GLOVES were off at Wednesday’s Bromsgrove District Council meeting when residents and councillors on opposite sides came head to head over the decision to demolish the Dolphin Centre Sports Hall.
A petition, containing 1,132 signatures, was presented at the meeting and a motion was put forward by Coun Chris Bloore calling for the plans to be reviewed.
Several campaigners made their voices heard at the meeting.
Campaigner Peter Rendell said the petition revealed two groups of people – those who had no idea of plans to destroy the sports hall and those who felt the new plans to get rid of it – were ‘stupid’.
He asked the council to review its decision and keep the sports hall, adding “You may never be forgiven if you deny this facility to our children and grandchildren.”
Group campaigner Adam Chairman said a public consultation in 2010 made it clear people wanted to keep the sports hall.
He added the community did not request a spa, treatment rooms, a moveable swimming pool floor or a climbing wall – new facilities into which the council has invested a total of £750,000.
Responding questions from members of the ‘Save our Sport Hall’ group, Coun Rod Laight said: “The new leisure centre will be a fantastic modern facility and the jewel in the crown in Worcestershire.”
He said new facilities ‘reflected the current change in leisure habits’ and ‘the capital cost’ of the project would be reduced to an affordable level.’
In a fiery exchange with Coun Laight, Coun Bloore said: “It is my belief that the decision not to replace the sports hall was not a decision based on usage or access, but purely on making the new leisure centre fit a prepared financial envelope to the detriment of local residents.”
Mr Bloore said in light of government plans to give councils more direct funding through the retention of business rates, ‘we can surely find the extra money to fund a sports hall.’
But the motion was defeated by 14 votes to 11 with one member abstaining.