'˜Once in a lifetime' plan for school as date is set for sports centre closure

A 'once in a lifetime' plan to rebuild 'crumbling' Whitcliffe Mount School will start now that a date is set for the closure of its attached sports centre.

Thursday, 24th March 2016, 9:46 am
Updated Thursday, 24th March 2016, 9:47 am
Whitcliffe Mount School. (D513A402)

Kirklees Council has announced that Whitcliffe Mount Sports Centre will close for the final time on May 20 – so work on the secondary school can start.

The Friends of Whitcliffe Mount Sports Centre are incensed by the council’s decision.

But Coun Graham Turner, Cabinet Member for Resources, said: “We know that the sports centre is well loved and that the closure has evoked some strong emotions.

“However, the school is in desperate need of replacement and we owe it to our children to ensure that they are taught in a high quality environment. Closing the sports centre is the only way to ensure the crumbling school can be replaced.”

A strongly-fought campaign to keep the sports centre open by its users was thwarted last December after Cabinet members agreed to plans to knock down the attached Whitcliffe Mount School and re-develop it.

An Education Funding Agency grant has been made towards the £15m rebuild of the school.

The Local Government Ombudsman had ruled prior to this that an original decision to carry out the plans, made in December 2013, had to be re-considered because there was no public consultation.

John Bolton set up a petition to save the sports centre. Pictured with bowling club. (D535F404)

The Turnsteads Avenue school is on a government hit list for those in dire need of re-development.

In 2011 it was deemed one of the 261 worst school buildings in the country.

Council documents detail how it is outdated and was not designed with the needs of disabled people in mind.

Matthew McKirgan, the school’s business support manager, said: “The rebuilding of Whitcliffe Mount School is a once in a lifetime opportunity and will help to secure a high quality educational future for generations of local young people.

“There is no doubt that it is badly needed and that this is a rare opportunity with funding being available from central government. A new, modern building will ensure all students, no matter what their particular talents and interests, have the opportunity to benefit from excellent educational facilities.”

Friends of Whitcliffe Mount Sports Centre secretary Dr Graham Morley said: “We think it’s disgusting what the council is doing to the community of Cleckheaton. We really think the community needs a sports centre for many reasons.

“It was built for the community originally – not the school. It was used by the community and the school but they are taking it away from us.

“Whenever you go to the sports centre, it’s always busy, the car park’s always full.”

John Bolton set up a petition to save the sports centre. Pictured with bowling club. (D535F404)

On May 20, the gym will close at 6pm and the sports hall and courts at 10pm.

Similar facilities are available across North Kirklees, including Batley Sports and Tennis Centre, Batley Baths, Spenborough Pool and Dewsbury Sports Centre.