Anger at community centre sell-off plan

A COMMUNITY centre looks on the brink of closure after council chiefs agreed to recommend its sale in order to potentially pay for the development of a multi-million pound swimming pool.

A COMMUNITY centre looks on the brink of closure after council chiefs agreed to recommend its sale in order to potentially pay for the development of a multi-million pound swimming pool.

Scores of campaigners descended upon a meeting of Babergh District Council's strategy committee in a bid to safeguard the future of East House in Hadleigh as councillors discussed its future.

The fate of the Grade II listed building was first thrown into doubt last year when Suffolk County Council announced it would no longer be able to lease the centre from Babergh and would end its current agreement on March 31.

The district authority has also said it cannot justify the cost and yesterday councillors gave the green light to sell the building - as long as the money generated is put towards facilities in Hadleigh.


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It means the capital could be used to help replace the town's outdated 36-year-old swimming pool with a new £3.25million development.

Babergh has also said land providing access to the proposed superstore site at Brett Works could be sold for the same purpose - although this is still subject to planning procedures and agreement with the town council.

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East House user groups - which include Hadleigh Community Playgroup, an after school club, the volunteer bureau, Hadleigh community support and the railway circle - believe the money for the pool could be generated through other means instead of sacrificing the community centre and leaving them homeless.

Speaking at the meeting Jim Quinlan, district councillor for Hadleigh north, said: “East House is the heartbeat of Hadleigh. The question of whether we should have a swimming pool or a community centre shouldn't even be an issue because with a population of 8,000 people we should be able to accommodate both.

“However with no guarantee that the money raised through any sale will definitely be used for a pool then we could potentially be without both, which is unacceptable.”

Speaking after the meeting David Warner, town councillor and East House user, said: “I wasn't really that hopeful to be honest but it is good they have agreed any money will be used solely in Hadleigh because at least that is some security for the town.”

Terry Wiles, of the Hadleigh Railway circle, said the lack of support from councillors outside the Hadleigh area showed the town was not in control of its own destiny.

Meanwhile Claire Airlie, whose three-year-old daughter attends Hadleigh Community Playgroup, said: “We've moved to the football ground but it is hardly ideal. The changing rooms are currently being renovated so it is a bit of a building site, there is no footpath on the approach and it is some distance from the town centre.”

The recommendation will now go before a meeting of the full council on February 23 when a final decision will be made.

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