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Shock cut in Worcester leisure centre's hours
A MAJOR Worcester sports centre is to close on Fridays because the city council wants to save money.
Nunnery Wood Sports Complex will also reduce its Saturday opening times by four hours, angering users and community leaders.
The move, which is coming into force from October, comes after council bosses warned in June that hours could be slashed to cut costs.
The council's Labour leadership last night refused to rule out further cuts to sport facilities in Worcester - saying it will depend on future Government funding.
The complex, in Spetchley Road, has popular basketball and gymnastic clubs which use it on a Friday that have been told to go elsewhere.
On Saturdays the site currently opens from 8am-8pm, but that will also be cut from 9am-5pm next month.
Bill Walker, who helps run Worcester Bears basketball sessions, said: “We’ve been told we can use the sports centre in St John’s but that’s the other side of the river.
“Who wants to do that on a Friday evening? I was very surprised when they told us about it - it should be staying open.
“People are here on a Friday using the facilities, there’s squash courts, badminton courts - I thought it did well.”
The move has also been criticised by opposition politicians, who say they have been left “dumbfounded”.
Councillor Jabba Riaz said: “It’s pretty shocking that they are doing this to be honest - to close it earlier in the day is one thing, but to shut it for a whole day is another.
“This is a major sports centre. I am really upset about is because it completely undermines one of the best facilities we’ve got.
“It beggars belief, I am dumbfounded. Where does this leave our Olympic legacy?"
The authority is under major budget pressure and is currently drawing up ideas for saving around £3m by 2017/18.
At least £1.2m of that money is being cut from spending by 2015, and sports and leisure facilities need to take the brunt of about £60,000 of savings this year.
The council is in the process of handing the leisure centre over to Wychavon Leisure Trust, as well as St John’s Sports Centre, to make them more efficient.
Bosses say the decision to cut hours was a council one, and that it is being done because Fridays are not popular days at the centre.
Councillor Roger Berry, the cabinet member for safer and stronger communities, said: “On a Friday the average number of people using it is 137, compared to 391 on Tuesdays, the busiest day.
"So it's around a third of that peak.
"Clearly we need to make significant savings, and it is important we hand it over to the trust as a viable business.
"St John's sports centre is consistently well used and there is no significant risk there, but it all depends if Government ministers reduce our grants
"Of course it is disappointing when we have to do this, but it was a better option than some of the other things we could have done."
He said it will not result in job losses - but that a vacancy for a centre manager will not be filled as a result of the move.
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