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Dudley council proposes leisure centre overhaul

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Three leisure centres could be closed in the borough of Dudley and replaced by two new facilities, as part of proposals being put forward by the local authority.

Bosses at Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council have been working with Sport England on plans, which could help the authority save £1.75million.

The council is looking to save a total of £25m from its budget over the next three years. Leisure centres have been highlighted in a budget report as needing to save £338,000 in 2017/18.

A report is due to go to the council’s cabinet next month outlining proposals, which include two new leisure centres with swimming pools, badminton courts, gyms, studios and changing facilities.

The three current leisure centres in Dudley, Halesowen and Stourbridge are in need of repair and investment of more than £2m. Dudley and Halesowen were both built more than 40 years ago, while Crystal Leisure Centre in Stourbridge dates back to the early 90s. Despite funding they are all struggling to compete with new modern facilities.

The three centres are in need of repair, including £500,000 for a new air handling unit at Halesowen and a further £500,000 on a new roof at Dudley. Crystal Leisure Centre also needs a new boiler, which is expected to cost around £50,000.

There are 1.2 million visits to the three facilities each year, which generates £2.87m for the authority – with the council covering a £1.9m deficit to keep the centres open. Membership across the three sites is 4,400.

Under the proposals all three would be closed once the two new leisure centres are built.

Council bosses are asking cabinet for permission to draw up details for the sites, including where they could be built, how they would be operated and funded.

Councillor Khurshid Ahmed, cabinet member responsible for leisure, said: “Staff work hard to keep our current stock of leisure centres going but they face an uphill struggle to compete against privately-run facilities and spiralling maintenance costs.

“Many of our facilities, although well attended, will not survive many more years in their current format and we have to look at reshaping how we do things to make them accessible, affordable and competitive.”

The report will go to cabinet on December 14.

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Three leisure centres could be closed in the borough of Dudley and replaced by two new facilities, as part of proposals being put forward by the local authority.
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