Ipswich: Doubts over future of sports centre

IPSWICH: A huge question mark today hangs over the future of one of the town’s largest sports centres.

The Maidenhall Sports Centre is under the microscope as the number of users has fallen well below the number using other centres in the town.

The building needs major work to bring it into the 21st century – and there are major question marks over whether the money would be available.

The centre is owned by Suffolk County Council, but is managed by the borough.

Borough councillor with responsibility for leisure and culture Andrew Cann said the future of the centre was far from certain.

He said: “We are certainly looking at the operation of the centre. We run it under contract from the county and it is currently costing �150,000 to �200,000 a year.

“We are aware that there are more popular, more modern other centres in the area – like Suffolk One, Chantry Sports Centre and the new Goal centre.

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“I would not say at this stage that it is under threat, but certainly we would welcome a sign of more people using the centre.”

Sports services manager Tim Snook said that while the borough’s other sports centres got about 125,000 visitors a year, Maidenhall only got about 55,000 visitors.

Opposition leisure spokeswoman Bryony Rudkin said she would be concerned about any threat to the future of the sports centre.

She said: “I know times are tough, but you have to keep faith with communities and Maidenhall is greatly valued by the people of Stoke Park, Old Stoke and the Wherstead Road area.

While Maidenhall’s future is uncertain, another council-run sports centre could find itself at the hub of a new “sporting village.”

Sport England has shown an interest in promoting the development of Gainsborough Sports Centre, especially if a proposal to move Holywells High School from its current site to a new home beside the sports centre is followed up.

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