Lichfield District Council has published the Friary Grange Leisure Centre Cabinet report that will be considered by the council’s Cabinet at a special meeting at the Lichfield Garrick on Monday 7 October at 6pm. The special meeting was called in response to a petition to ‘save Friary Grange Leisure Centre’ that has received around 11,000 signatures. Two options are set out in the report, which will be considered by Cabinet at the public meeting.
The first option is to stop operating Friary Grange Leisure Centre and hand the property back to Staffordshire County Council in May 2020, with any future provision being addressed through the Local Plan process.
The second option is to enter a new lease with Staffordshire County Council, to keep the leisure centre open while a new facility can be built. However, the new lease would not include the synthetic football pitch and sports hall, which are being handed to Greywood Multi-Schools Trust.
Councillor Doug Pullen, Leader of Lichfield District Council, said: “We will be considering the Cabinet report at the special meeting. It has a lot of information about the closure decision and the two possible options for the council.
“If you are coming to the special Cabinet meeting, I recommend that you take a look at the report as it will inform the debate that will take place in the second half of the meeting.
“The first part of the meeting has been set aside for members of the local community, who have registered to take part, to have their say.”
The report sets out a detailed analysis of both options, the impact they would have on the community and the financial implications for the council. The main material change from when the closure decision was taken is that Staffordshire County Council is now prepared to offer the council a lease of fewer than ten years, on significantly more favourable terms and conditions.
This gives more flexibility and reduces the financial risk the council would be exposed to if it were to continue to occupy the premises after April 2020.
Other changes outlined in the report include the potential for Section 106 income, which is generated as a result of development in the district, to support any refurbishment, and the potential removal of the threat of repayment of a Sports England grant, if the council continues to operate Friary Grange Leisure Centre until a new facility is available.
Photo: Friary Grange Leisure Centre