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County Council Agrees to Transfer Former Centre

A former leisure centre building owned by Staffordshire County Council will be transferred to Newcastle Borough Council for a nominal fee.

At the county council’s Property Sub-Committee meeting yesterday, members unanimously decided to transfer the former Kidsgrove Leisure Centre building to the borough council, together with a contribution of £363,000 towards the cost of demolition.

The transfer—which is subject to a period of call in—comes with a condition that if the building is not used for leisure services within 12 months or is sold, the money for demolition would need to be repaid back to the county council.

Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council is working with Kidsgrove Sports Centre Community Group, a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO), to develop viable proposals for volunteers to reopen the sports centre.

Leader of Staffordshire County Council and property committee chair Philip Atkins said:

“Members have decided unanimously to transfer the Kidsgrove Leisure Centre building to Newcastle Borough Council for a nominal sum.  As the building will cost £363,000 if we were to demolish it, we have decided to transfer this money over too, on the condition that the building will be brought back into use for leisure within the next 12 months.

“This is not a donation or an investment in leisure services, as these come under the remit of Newcastle Borough Council.  I hope that Newcastle and the community interest group will be able to make a success of Kidsgrove Leisure Centre, but we must safeguard the money we are transferring if for any reason this does not happen. I wholeheartedly support the community interest group, and genuinely hope that they can soon realise their vision of providing community-led, dry-side facilities to the people of Kidsgrove.”

Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council Cabinet members welcomed the news of the nominal fee transfer and costs of £363,000.

The Leader of the Council, Simon Tagg, said:

“We really welcome this decision from the county council and we know the people of Kidsgrove will too. It means that we can now make decisions and move ahead on this very important project.

“The onus will now be on the community group to make a success of this and we will be setting up a meeting between all parties to discuss next steps as soon as possible.

“There is still a lot to do but, for now, we can reassure them that we will give them our full support in the months to come in getting the centre up and running again.”

The demolition cost agreed by the County Council’s Property Sub Committee is £363,000. This means that together with the £300,000 contribution from the Borough Council there are now funds available for the refurbishment of the dry side of the sports centre in excess of the amount originally sought by the CIO.

Mark Clews, Chairman of Kidsgrove Sports Centre Community Group, added:

“This is the best news we could have hoped for at this stage. The people of Kidsgrove have really missed the centre; it has been a great loss to the community.

“Looking forward now, I’m positive and excited about what we as a community can achieve. With the support of the Borough Council we will be setting about getting the centre open for the community as soon as possible.”

It is expected that a local councillor from the Kidsgrove area will be invited to become a full voting member of the CIO Board as the project moves forward and the business plan, condition survey and refurbishment are fully costed and approved. Importantly, this work must be carried out within the 12-month window proposed by Staffordshire County Council.