Britannia Leisure Centre: Council refuses to share evidence facility earmarked for demolition is ‘beyond repair’
- Credit: save britannia campaign
Campaigners to save Britannia Leisure Centre are demanding to see evidence it is “beyond repair” – one of the council’s main reasons for tearing it down.
Mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville has argued the centre in Hyde Road will soon become unfit for purpose unless it is knocked down and replaced with a new facility.
He claims it is “costing too much money to operate and maintain” and is “approaching the end of its life”.
Hackney Council has said refurbishing the leisure centre – built in two stages in the 1970s and 1980s – would cost £14m and require it to be closed for up to two years.
A consultation launched in December to gauge opinion on plans to build a new leisure centre, secondary school and housing complex in its place next to Shoreditch Park did not include an option to retain the Britannia, which has just undergone a £300,000 facelift.
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But Save Britannia campaigners – who handed in a petition signed by 2,962 people on Saturday – believe the council “just wants to make way for 400 luxury flats”.
They submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to find out the Britannia’s operation costs and what repairs are needed.
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But the council has refused to comply with the FOI, stating reports say contain “commercially sensitive information” that could affect its ability to secure competitive prices from contractors for repairs and improvement works while it is still being used.
Stalwart campaigner Pat Turnbull said: “We see the Britannia as a fully functioning leisure centre which meets the needs of a wide variety of people, rather than a decrepit facility on its last legs.
“We ask ourselves: why should a replacement leisure centre be cheaper to run? Will it provide fewer facilities? Will it employ fewer people? Will it charge higher prices? Will it cater for the richer people intended for the 400 luxury flats? Will it be run by the academy school also planned for the site?
“We don’t know. And the council is not giving us the answers.”
The group has referred the council’s FOI refusal to the Information Commissioner’s Office, which can overturn the decision.
Hackney’s Learning Trust, set up by the town hall to run local schools, is currently advertising the City of London Academy Shoreditch Park to prospective secondary pupils.
They say that school will be built on the site where Britannia now stands and run by the City of London Academy trust.