A Leeds councillor is demanding answers about why it has taken city hall bosses THREE years to decide on the future of a sports centre, which it has now decided to demolish and replace with a new school.
Leeds City Council has approved a plan to pull down South Leeds Sports Centre at a cost of £350,000, with the land set to be used for a new school – nearly three years after the centre shut its doors.
The building has been plagued with repeated break-ins ever since the closure.
At a recent meeting, council asset chiefs agreed to allocate £350,000 to pay for the demolition of the building and the removal of asbestos. That funding has now been signed off and demolition work is imminent.
However, Tory councillor John Procter, the city’s shadow spokesman for leisure, said the long delay had given a mixed message to the community about the potential to reopen the site, and had wasted additional taxpayer cash on securing the building and making it structurally safe after the break-ins.
Coun Procter said: “The building has stood empty for nearly three years, giving false hope to the local community that it could open again as a community space.
“The council has spent money re-securing the building and making it safe after repeated break-ins. The council have known for a long time that this building could never be brought back into use as a leisure centre due to the damage sustained. Why was the proposal to demolish the site not brought sooner to reduce the costs of securing it?”
A recent report by the council’s head of corporate property management confirmed £246,500 of capital funding was being set aside to carry out the demolition of the centre. A further £103,500 will pay for the asbestos survey and removal. “It is proposed that the new school will open in September 2014 and demolition should therefore proceed as soon as possible,” the report said.
A Leeds City Council Spokesperson said: “Leeds City Council’s executive board agreed to move forward with the demolition of South Leeds Sports Centre. A number of options have previously been explored following the closure of the sports centre, and it is now proposed that a new school will open on the site in September 2014.”