By Elliott Patrice –
Kirklees Active Leisure’s recent and sudden decision to temporarily close three of their facilities until at least the end of March has had a wide-reaching effect on the people who live in the areas affected.
Most locals are unsure if KAL will ever open the centre back up at all, but it didn’t take long for the community to act, arranging meetings and protests. People came together to support their local sports centres.
I was at the protest arranged for the Deighton sports arena and I could see the pain it had caused in the short time the news was public.
Most people found out the same way, through an article posted on Yorkshire Live. The individuals we spoke to said KAL had not reached out to any of the users to warn them of the closure. People were quick to point out the effect this had on both the young and old.
Netball, football, table tennis and youth work are all things which take place at the sports arena. Deighton is known for their talented basketball team across Yorkshire. Many people we worried what effect the closure would have on these groups
The centre was a hub of sports and socialisation. In an area which has had its recent struggles with crime and has its problems with youth gangs, taking away one of the only healthy outlets for some of these kids could have major implications.
Sophie Simpson, Co-Founder & Director of Operations at Consious Youth, said: “We are struggling already, as a community. We have had a murder, and a stabbing recently.
“There are no provisions in this area, we have one communal space. There isn’t anything else.
“This venue is used by both young and old people. It’s a vital part of the community, it’s the heart of the community”.This morning we woke up to the sight of the centre boarded up. Regardless of how the community feels, KAL will follow through on its decision to close the centre until further notice.
Speaking about the recent events, Howard Belafonte of Local Services 2 You, said: “Myself like the whole Community noticed that the Centre has been boarded up.
“[KAL] are now just adding insult to injury, there has been no empathy, dialogue or thought for the community and centre users from KAL.
“Where are the existing activities supposed to go? The whole community is outraged and disgusted and the committee demands a meeting with KAL Chief Executive Alasdair Brown and the KAL Directors”.
While the decision to close the centre has come to pass, many within the local community have said they will continue to fight for the future of the centre.
What about you? Do you think the sports centres should be reopened, and another solution found? Or do these closures have to happen now in order for them to reopen later? Let us know in the poll below:
Should the Deighton and Batley Sports Centre's be reopened?
- Yes, the community has a right to be able to use the space (97%, 69 Votes)
- No, the focus should be on ensuring the spaces reopen next year (3%, 2 Votes)
Total Voters: 71