The last few weeks in Blackburn with Darwen have been eventful to say the least. And having taken over as the Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport I’ve certainly had a busy time grappling with the difficult issues facing the department. During the Summer the Labour group supported local residents in enthusiastic campaigns to stop the closure of Shadsworth Leisure Centre and a number of the Borough’s community centres, so it was important that once we came back to power we acted as quickly as possible to re-open the Leisure Centre and stop the Community Centre transfer.
Today I was pleased to be at Shadsworth on the day the pool re-opened to the public. This is a vital facility in the Borough and the 220,000 visits during 2009/10 show that it is needed. However, the coalition decision to close the pool has done a lot of damage. The Labour Government, through Refresh, had put large sums of money into increasing sporting activity within Blackburn which had amongst the worst fitness levels in the UK. As a result of the scheme activity is now up to the national average – a fantastic achievement. But when a leisure centre closes history shows that rather than going to a different centre people just stop altogether. And with the obvious effects on health that a possible further recession will have it is vital that people have low cost leisure facilities available.
So I hope you hear the message loud and clear – Shadsworth is back in business – come down and use these great facilities.