Anger at plan to close Stoke-on-Trent Gymnastics Centre
PARENTS have hit out over plans to close Staffordshire's only dedicated gymnastics centre.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council is consulting over plans to relocate Stoke-on-Trent Gymnastics Centre across Burslem to Dimensions Leisure Centre.
But parents of the 400 youngsters who use the centre fear gymnastics in the area will suffer as a result of the move.
An attempt by Stoke-on-Trent Gymnastics Club to take over the centre has so far been unsuccessful.
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Alison Kenny, whose daughters Isla and Ellen attend the Newcastle Road base, say the centre is 'unique' in the county.
Mrs Kenny, aged 46, of Hanford, said: "We're worried that the new facility won't be up to the same standard, although I can understand the council needs to make savings."
Kitty Dawkins, aged 37, of Trentham, whose 10-year-old daughter Sofia uses the centre, said: "I don't want the gymnastics to move to Dimensions. We can use this centre any time we want, but we'll have to share the facilities at Dimensions. I think the council could make the centre more profitable by letting other groups use it, other than the gymnastics club."
Kelly Hampton, aged 28, of Weston Coyney, said: "We are still trying to save the centre. My son, Ben, has been coming here for six years and he loves it.
"My concern with moving to Dimensions is over health and safety, as all the equipment here is fixed. But we have been reassured that the new facility will be just as safe."
The gymnastics club was first earmarked for closure by the council in 2009/10. The closure was averted after talks started over a community asset transfer of the centre to volunteers.
But it is understood the offer was rejected due to issues over the transfer of staff.
The planned relocation is part of the council's 2013/14 budget consultation. Parents can have their say on the proposals until January 11.
The council's annual subsidy for sports centres has fallen from £2 million to £1.1 million in four years.
Councillor Mark Meredith, cabinet member for economic development, said: "Further savings proposed include the relocation of the gymnastics centre at Burslem to Dimensions Leisure Centre, resulting in an increased programme of gymnastics."