Sudbury: Concern for future of sports centre

Principal, Caroline Wilson, at Ormiston Sudbury Academy.

Principal, Caroline Wilson, at Ormiston Sudbury Academy.

Concerns have been raised about the future of a sports centre which has been under the control of the Ormiston Academies Trust since last September.

The facility was originally built as part of the county council-owned Sudbury Upper School, which has now become Ormiston Sudbury Academy. But according to some local councillors, many people who use the sports centre are worried that the trust is allowing it to deteriorate, and some fear it will eventually close to the public.

The academy’s principal, Caroline Wilson, categorically denied that sports centre is in danger of closure. She acknowledged some repair work was needed to bring the 40 year-old building up to scratch and that the trust had been in talks with the county council about ongoing maintenance issues.

Town mayor Adrian Osborne met Mrs Wilson recently to discuss the sports centre. At a leisure and environment meeting on Tuesday, he told fellow members: “The general feeling is that Ormiston are running the sports centre down by cutting staff. They only seem interested in academic arrangements and not sports, which is a concern to the people who use that centre. It also looks like the trust has an issue with how the county council left the school.”

Committee chairman Russell Smith added: “It has certainly deteriorated since it has changed hands, which is a real worry. There is a risk we might lose the sports centre altogether and it is the only one we have in Sudbury.”

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His colleague Simon Barrett continued: “As a sports centre it will lose money and will cost Ormiston to run it. I believe they will ask us (the town council) for a subsidy to keep it going. They will have no responsibility to it because they have nothing coming out of it.”

Mrs Wilson said the school was in the process of upgrading changing rooms, and fire doors that were not fit for purpose. The sports centre café has closed because it was not being used.

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But she added: “I can categorically say that my intention is not to close the centre down. We want to keep it open for the whole community and extend what we offer there depending on what people want.

“Several areas need to be spruced up but we are still open and fully functional and are in fact very busy with party bookings. We have made some minor changes and are offering something different, and I think people are just averse to change. I can guarantee that if the community are using the sports centre, then we will continue to run with it.”

A spokesman for the county council told the EADT it had met all of its statutory requirements in maintaining the sports centre and that the Ormiston Academies Trust was “fully aware” it would take on the responsibility for running and maintaining the facility. He said if the county funded maintenance work on an academy it would be to the “detriment” of schools still under local education authority control.

He added: “During the process of becoming an academy, one of the requirements in obtaining a funding agreement with the Education Funding Agency is that the school must draw up an agreement on shared use of facilities on the school site.

“If the school signed an agreement of shared use of the sports centre then this should secure future use by the community.”

Representatives from the school will be invited to a full council meeting in July.

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