Anger at Stoke-on-Trent City Council's closure of Meir gym
GYM users say the closure of a popular council-run fitness centre will lead to health problems among the elderly.
The gym at Meir Community Education Centre will close at the end of the month due to Stoke-on-Trent City Council's spending cuts.
Council leaders say 'innovative thinking' will allow it to keep the rest of the Pickford Place centre in use, despite it losing money.
But people who use the gym, many of whom are elderly, fear their health will suffer if they no longer have access to fitness equipment.
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Alan Spooner, who is diabetic and registered blind, has been using the gym, five times a week, for 16 years.
He says he will be unable to use any other fitness centre due to his disability.
The 59-year-old, of Lombardy Grove, Meir, said: "When the gym closes I don't know what I'm going to do.
"The alternative would be to go to the gyms in Fenton or Burslem, but that will be out of the question for me because of my blindness."
Alan has written a letter to council leaders, saying he will hold them responsible if his health declines.
He added: "A lot of the people who use the gym are elderly. If they can't stay fit they'll just become more of a burden on the NHS.
"I had a stroke in November. My doctor told me I was able to recover from it so well because I was so fit. Regular exercise also helps me keep my sugar levels down. If I couldn't go to the gym I'd have to take more insulin." The centre also houses four classrooms and two multi-use halls. Nearly 2,000 people signed a petition against its planned closure in 2011.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council, which is making £21 million of cuts to services, held a further consultation over the centre's future in December.
Council staff are now set to move into the centre in a plan they say will make it more cost-efficient.
Councillor and cabinet member Janine Bridges said: "We have been working very closely with the community to explore ways to ensure Meir Community Education Centre remains open, even though it has been operating at a loss. I'm really pleased that a way forward is possible.
"A number of council workers, operating from bases elsewhere in the area, will move to the centre, to ensure that the facility continues to be opened throughout the week.
"This means that community-based groups will still be able to operate from the centre, some facilities for educational use will remain, and services including a pre-school club will still be able to be based there."