By KLTV Newsdesk –
Local community members gathered and braved freezing temperatures on Thursday 15 December in order to protest the closing of the Deighton Sports Arena.
Kirklees Active Leisure announced last week that they would be temporarily closing the Deighton Sports Arena, Batley Sports and Recreation Centre, and the swimming pool at Colne Valley Leisure Centre until the end of next March.
Local residents remain unconvinced that the centres will reopen at all come Spring 2023, and have been planning a series of actions to combat the closure.
The latest action saw local community members endure -4 degree weather outside the Deighton Sports Arena, to exercise their rights to peacefully protest against the planned closures.
The protest saw members of the community, alongside representatives from local sports groups who use the facilities on a regular basis, and members of the Huddersfield Trade Union, speak out against KAL and express their frustration with the lack of communication.
Michelle Welch, a local resident and member of Genies Netball Club, said: “As a long-term user of this facility, I’ve not had any direct communication from KAL at all to explain their decision as to why the centre has been closed.
“I feel like the impact of this decision is so far-reaching, there are over 200 young people who use this facility on a weekend.
“I just don’t think that KAL have considered the impact of this closure on this community as a whole”.
KLTV attended the protest on Thursday 15 December. We spoke with local community members and users of the sports arena about what they thought about the closures.
Residents spoke of the impact that the closures will have on the mental health and well-being of young people, many of whom have struggled as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Many described how they found out about the closure second-hand, either through the attendees themselves, or the parents of children attending sports groups.
Moving forward, the campaigners are now looking at potential legal options in order to protect the sports arena and keep it open.
Louise Lewis, a local resident and schoolteacher, said: “We’re currently being assessed by solicitors to see whether we have a legal challenge against the closure.
“We’re going to continue to campaign as well, we’ll be at the [Kirklees] Council meeting on the 12th of January, and we’ll be speaking from the floor. This is just the start”.
A petition has now been set up by the campaigners to save the Leisure Centre, which can be viewed and signed on Change.org.