Leisure scheme raises many concerns

Posted: 27/06/12

Westminster Council's proposal to close the Jubilee Sports Centre in favour of a re-built sports and leisure centre on the site currently used by the Moberly centre has run into what, for them, is probably unexpected opposition. Despite claims that every home within two miles of the Jubilee Centre was leafleted about the plans, responses pouring in to local councillors and to me express shock and surprise, with many people being unaware that this is what the Council was proposing before we told them. Many pointed out the irony of putting forward the closure of thee Jubilee Centre this year of all years.

Westminster Council's argument is that both Jubilee and Moberly centres can be re-built at no net cost, and up to £600,000 cut from the operating costs, if the Jubilee site is given over to the building of new homes for sale instead. Whilst appreciating that the massive cuts in local council budgets make it essential that every scheme is tested for the best value for money, local Labour councillors and I have a great many concerns about what is being put forward.

First- location. We do not like the fact that a sports and leisure facility currently based in the heart of Queen's Park will be moved to a site that is not merely on the very edge of Westminster but is technically in Brent. This will make the pool and other facilities currently running out of the Jubilee much less convenient for many local residents.

Second- the nature of the community served by the Jubilee. Queen's Park is one of the most socially and economically deprived communities in the country, and the Mozart is one of the most deprived estates. North Westminster is the most densely populated area in Britain. The closure of the Jubilee cannot but impact upon the area, which arguably needs MORE leisure facilities, not fewer.

Third- what will go on the Jubilee site. Every single one of the130 or so new homes to be built on will be sold at open market value and will do nothing to ease the affordable housing crisis in the area. We need new homes for sale, but we also urgently need more shared ownership and affordable rented homes as well.

I hope a compromise solution can be found and ward councillors and I will be working to that end, In the meantime, I very much welcome reader's views, by e-mail to BuckK@parliament.uk, or by writing to me at the House of Commons, London SW1A OAA.