THE DOLPHIN Centre Sports Hall – which had been earmarked for demolition – has been closed for good following a health and safety inspection.
Several security and safety issues were identified during the examination by Bromsgrove District Council officers on Friday and the council said it was being shut with immediate effect to ensure the safety of users.
Regular users of the hall have been advised.
The council’s portfolio-holder for leisure, Coun Peter Whittaker, said: “The safety of the users, and the public, is of paramount importance to us and our recent risk assessment required us to close the building immediately.”
Labour leader Coun Michael Thompson said: “It’s a great shame but this was an incident waiting to happen.
“It’s catastrophic for the groups which use it, including Keep on Moving, who now have nowhere to go.
“I’m also concerned that the sports hall was unsafe for its users.”
A Bromsgrove District Council spokesperson confirmed talks with BAM, a private body which runs North Bromsgrove High School’s sports hall which would be the alternative, were ongoing and at Wednesday’s full council meeting, Coun Whittaker said the agreement had been signed by the council and was with BAM’s legal team.
He expected an update on the deal ‘in the near future’.
But Coun Thompson added: “They have kept saying the BAM deal is about to be signed but this has been going on for more than four years now. This council getting a deal for a sports hall is like Brexit on a local level.”
Bromsgrove’s Labour Group has vowed in its manifesto for the forthcoming May elections to build a new sports hall and take the leisure centre back under council control.
“It will serve as a leisure hub, owned by the council, in which individuals, community groups and local businesses will thrive,” says Labour.
“We believe in investment that will bring economical prosperity to the town and better the wellbeing, heath and happiness of people in the town.
The district council voted to bulldoze the sports hall at a meeting last July, and release £600,000 from the authority’s capital funds to pay for the demolition. Coun Brian Cooper, the cabinet member responsible for finance, said at that meeting it would be ‘irresponsible’ to spend £2.5million to £2.8million to build a new hall at a time of financial uncertainty.
At Wednesday’s council meeting, Coun Whittaker said there had been incidents of people trespassing and vandalism in the sports hall and the damage had led to the safety and security issues and the need for improved secure fencing.