Sports centre gets reprieve

PUBLISHED: 14:51 22 October 2001 | UPDATED: 10:43 03 March 2010

THE headteacher of Chantry High has spoken of her relief at news that a threatened community sports centre run by the school has been granted a temporary reprieve.

THE headteacher of Chantry High has spoken of her relief at news that a threatened community sports centre run by the school has been granted a temporary reprieve.

The news comes as Hadleigh High School and East Bergholt High School, which both have attached community sports facilities facing a similar financial crisis, make applications for emergency funding to get them through the next financial year.

Chantry Sports Centre, which is used by pupils during the day and is opened for community use in the evenings, looked to be shutting its doors because of a lack of cash.

But Ipswich Council has now stepped in and offered help running the beleaguered facility until the end of next March.

"This area needs a community sports facility, it is very poorly served and it would be a terrible shame to have to close it," said Chantry head Anne Rickwood.

"My governors have been faced with a very difficult decision. We want the sports centre. We want it to be used by the community. The last thing we want is for it to be closed at the end of the school day."

However, although the sports centre was in demand in the evenings, its fitness suite was proving to be an unsustainable drain on the school's resources, she explained.

"The school budget can not subsidise community use of the sports centre and over the last three years community use has not pulled in enough revenue to pay for the professional staffing that is required.

"The use of the sports hall, gym, outside courts are used very well, every evening, but the use of the fitness suite has declined as more and more fitness centres have been opened up in the town. We simply can not subsidise its use from the school budget – which is after all is for use for the children's education."

The news comes as two other combined school and community sports facilities are facing a similar cash crisis.

A leisure centre attached to Hadleigh High school, which has already had to make cut backs on opening hours and staff, has received a £3,500 emergency cash injection from Babergh District to get them through this financial year, a sum matched by Suffolk County Council.

East Bergholt High School's leisure centre committee, which said it could manage until the end of this financial year, has calculated it would need £10,000 to cover the next financial year.

In response Babergh has drawn up a list of criteria under which schools can apply for funding for next year only. Plans for long term funding arrangements are currently under discussion, according to Babergh's head of leisure services, Tim Mutum.

Ipswich Borough council have agreed to managing staffing at a reduced cost until March 31 while Suffolk County Council, Ipswich Borough Council and the school decide whether or not we can manage this sort of joint management into the future.

Anyone wanting information on what the Chantry Sport Centre has to offer or to book facilities, activities or classes should contact Lynsey Dennington on 01473 602962 between 4.30pm to 10pm Monday to Friday.


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