Kimberley residents 'very sad' and worried over future of leisure centre
Residents of Kimberley have expressed their worry and ‘disbelief’ as the town’s leisure centre is set to be turned back into a school.
A statement issued by Broxtowe Borough Council last week on the future of Kimberley Leisure Centre revealed that following the ending of an agreement with East Midlands Education Trust (EMET) next spring, the building will be mostly used for the benefit of pupils.
Despite promises that gym goers will still be able to access the leisure facilities during evenings and weekends, many residents and local councillors have expressed disappointment over the news.
“It’s a very sad day,” said Kimberley Town Councillor Stewart Bain.
“Broxtowe did everything in their power to keep LLeisure as the operator of the leisure centre, but sadly, the school were not interested in the offering.”
Local people are concerned that moving forward there will be no public swims during school hours and that gym opening times will be restricted.
Many took to the Kimberley Leisure Centre Protection Group on Facebook to share their thoughts.
Ellen Miloro-Deakin said: “Can’t believe this is going to happen, a lot of people go here for their health.
“I had a mini stroke and coming to Kimberley Leisure Centre has helped me to get fit again and keep fit. Where will people go who can’t or don’t drive, to be able to have a swim and exercise?
“This is the hub of the community and we need more access than just evenings, weekends and school holidays, also allowing as many of the staff to keep their jobs. This is very sad news.”
Resident Colin Pendleton said: “I think the swimming pool should be available to the community because there is not another one around here."
Kim Peters added: “Elderly and vulnerable customers who access the centre during the day will now have nowhere to go for their mental and physical wellness.”
Pete Roberts said: “I’ve been going there since I was five – back in 1979. It’s a disgrace.”
However, others agreed with the school’s decision.
One said: “At the end of the day, they want to use what they own a little more and they do want to try and offer use at out-of-school times. They are totally within their rights to run it and provide more sports facilities for their students.”
Another added: “Pupils will get more from it.”
Kimberley School will take back control when the current agreement ends in April 2022.
Broxtowe Borough Council said: “The school is committed to providing community access to the leisure facilities during evenings, weekends and school holidays.
“We will now create a joint planning group to work together to ensure that there is a smooth transition so that members of the community can continue to make use of the leisure facilities outside of school hours."
Andrew George, Head Teacher of Kimberley School, acknowledged that it must be an ‘unsettling time’ for the community.
He said: "We are aware of concerns in some areas of the community about access to the leisure facilities from April next year.
"The joint statement that was issued by Broxtowe Borough Council and ourselves on September 29 set out that we are working closely with the council and Liberty Leisure to plan for a smooth transition for community access next year.
"The first meeting has already taken place and these concerns were discussed. We do understand that this an unsettling time for the users of the leisure centre.
"However, as the joint statement sets out we are determined to continue to enable the community to access the sporting and leisure facilities outside of school hours. We will continue to update the community on our plans as we prepare for April 2022.”
For the time being, the leisure centre will keep operating as normal.
A spokesperson for LLeisure said: “The centre will continue to operate as usual for the foreseeable future. This includes welcoming all enquiries, new memberships and bookings.
“We will be in touch with customers in due course with more information on how these changes will affect their memberships.”