Protesters march against Underwood Leisure Centre axe
9:12am Friday 25th January 2013 in Gwent news
PROTESTERS marched through Newport city centre yesterday afternoon in a bid to save Underwood Leisure Centre from closure.
Dozens of angry residents from Underwood and the surrounding areas walked from Clarence Place to the Civic Centre to hand in a 1,700-strong signed petition, shortly before a meeting of Newport council at 5pm.
A further 800 people have signed an online petition, and the group have also handed out 800 protest letters for residents to send to the council.
Martyn Kellaway, Conservative councillor for Langstone said: “The leisure centre is all they have in the ward. They don’t have any other facilities or places to meet. Everyone is up in arms about it, but the council just does not want to listen.”
If shut, the leisure centre could save the council £58,000 out of the £8.4million it needs.
Protest organiser Anna Erickson, 30, who lives on Birch Grove near the leisure centre said: “We have been in this situation a few times now. There are gymnastics clubs, football, dance, a gym and kickboxing groups who all use the centre. Apart from the shop the leisure centre is the only thing we have got down here.
“We managed to save the leisure centre last time but they haven’t spent any money on it since then, the council has just cut its opening hours.”
The leisure centre is one of a number of facilities which could close – including care homes and schools – which may mean it is overlooked, said Miss Erickson.
Kelly Pring, from Underwood, said: “My son plays football every Saturday at the centre and he loves it. The centre is the only thing we have to keep kids off the streets – we don’t have youth clubs or anything like that. It’s all we have.
“It does seem very unfair to take it away from us. To use any similar facilities, we will have to take two buses, which will obviously cost us a lot more in the long run.”
Visit newport.gov.uk/ haveyoursay to comment on the council’s proposals before February 13.
Feedback will be considered by cabinet on February 18 and the final budget will be considered by full council on February 26.