Cash from hall sale will fund sports facilities
Some of the cash raised from the sale of a closure-threatened Norwich sports centre will be pumped into providing other sports facilities, council bosses have said.
The sports hall at Wensum Lodge is due to close in little more than a month after officers at Norfolk County Council said they could not justify paying up to half a million pounds to maintain it at a time when the authority needs to save �155m over the next three years.
The hall, in King Street, is earmarked for closure on Sunday, December 19, with council bosses saying the roof leaks in heavy rainfall and it would cost too much to upgrade and maintain it.
Norwich South MP Simon Wright met officers at County Hall to discuss his concerns over the loss of the centre and the future of the site.
The Liberal Democrat MP said: 'I am generally concerned about the loss of sports facilities in the city as there has been a series of closures over the years.
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'I appreciate in this constrained times it is difficult to find money, but if the sale of the site goes through, I hope the proceeds from that sale can be used for improvements to sporting facilities in the community.
'We are seeing more and more facilities being lost, yet we are seeing more pressures on the health service because of things like childhood obesity. We need sports facilities to stop that.'
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Ann Steward, cabinet member with responsibility for adult education at Norfolk County Council, said: 'Ultimately, we plan to sell the land where the sports hall stands, along with the old King Street stores.
'The main Wensum Lodge building and those others on the site that are used to deliver adult education classes will not be sold as part of this plan.
'Selling off the land and buildings we own but no longer need, or that don't help us to deliver our most vital services, is one of the methods we're going to have to use to make the savings required of us.
'The money gained from the sale of some of the Wensum Lodge site will mean we don't have to make more or bigger cuts to our services than those we are already proposing.
'We hope to be able to use part of this money to help improve sports facilities at another site in the city which would be available for the community to use.'
The council has been talking to the Friends of Wensum Lodge – a charitable trust with a long-standing association with the sports hall – about the possibility of them taking over the management of the two squash courts connected to the hall.
What do you think of the decision to close the sports hall at Wensum Lodge? Call Evening News reporter Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375, email email@example.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also write to Evening News Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.