Swimmers upset as cash-strapped centre faces closure

Swimming pool
The centre said it would need to raise £100,000 to keep the pool open [The Lenton Centre]

Swimmers have voiced their sadness that an "essential" community centre could close for good in the face of a financial black hole.

The management team at The Lenton Centre in Nottingham said it needed to raise at least £30,000 to keep its gym and community spaces open.

To also retain the swimming pool, that figure would increase to £100,000.

Even with some cash raised, staff numbers would have to be reduced from 42 part-time and permanent employees to four, the team added.

The centre in Willoughby Street, which has been open for nearly 20 years, is paid for through usage fees and grant funding.

But management said they had struggled to cope with rising utility bills and wages.

Jane Bannister
Jane Bannister described the facilities as "amazing" [BBC]

One gym member, Jane Bannister, 41, said: "It’s really sad that it might be closing. We are really going to miss it if it was to close - so many people rely and depend on the services."

Arif Khan, 37, said: "In Nottingham especially, getting a swim session is really hard, all the swim centres are full, and this is really convenient for after school, and this is a nice place.

"I’m very disappointed and sad. This is something essential, swimming is a life lesson."

Arif Khan
Arif Khan said finding slots for children to learn to swim was increasingly difficult [BBC]

According to the centre, Nottingham City Council’s decision to remove discretionary charity rates relief has had an impact.

Managing director Miriam Pearman said businesses and the community were being asked to donate to help keep the centre running, but with a reduced team.

“The potential closure would be a significant loss for everyone," she said.

The Lenton Centre
The Lenton Centre [The Lenton Centre]

A city council spokesperson said the decision to remove rates relief was taken across all centres to "seek best value for taxpayers" and that the council has supported the centre.

They said: “Unfortunately, a number of community-owned swimming pools across the country are facing financial difficulties, and many are sadly having to close.

"The overwhelming majority are because of the ongoing, national cost-of-living crisis and the high energy prices still being felt.

“We work very well with groups and charities, and understand the positive impact they have on communities across Nottingham."

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