Clubs fight for new sports centre in Cleckheaton

John Bolton has set up a petition to save the Whitcliffe Mount Sports Centre. (D535E404)
John Bolton has set up a petition to save the Whitcliffe Mount Sports Centre. (D535E404)

Clubs have joined forces to save the future of their sports in Cleckheaton.

With the demolition of Whitcliffe Mount Sports Centre planned for December 2016, regular visitors are calling for Kirklees Council to deliver a new sports centre for the town.

John Bolton with the bowling club. (D535F404)

John Bolton with the bowling club. (D535F404)

John Bolton, a member of the centre’s bowling club, has begun a petition calling for the council to commit to a new centre and preserve the activities provided by Kirklees Active Leisure (KAL).

He said: “KAL efficiently provides many activities seven days a week at the Whitcliffe Mount Centre for a wide age range of users, including sessions for the partially sighted and wheelchair users.

“On weekdays the bowling lanes are rarely out of use.”

He added that some centre users travel more than eight miles to use the centre and said the petition had been signed by people living in Huddersfield, Calderdale, Bradford and Leeds as well as Kirklees.

John’s petition is being supported by another sports club based who rely on the centre in Turnsteads Avenue.

The Spen Valley Flyers roller hockey club has practiced and competed at the centre since 2008, and some of its 50 members play internationally.

Coaching director Dan Messenger, who played for England in European and International Championships, said the club was well regarded in the roller hockey world but would struggle to continue if they lose their base.

The club also hosts weekly skating sessions and works with foster families to help disadvantaged children learn and enjoy the sport.

Dan has teamed up with John and the bowlers and started an online petition and Facebook page in a bid to save the centre.

“We’ve got nowhere else,” he said. “We have been looking.

“Whitcliffe Mount has been ideal and there was a club there 20 years ago when I started playing so there’s a tradition of the sport at Whitcliffe.”

The closure of the centre has been prompted by the planned demolition and rebuilding of the adjoining Whitcliffe Mount School.

Labour deputy leader Coun David Sheard (Heckmondwike) and Cleckheaton ward councillors all back the idea of a new facility at the Spenborough Baths site, securing the future of the pool.

Liberal Democrat leader Kath Pinnock (Cleckheaton) said ward councillors will be asking for money to be set aside for the new centre at the full council budget meeting on February 19.

“There’s no way that we will allow the council to see the sports centre closed without providing an equivalent facility, it’s an absolute must.

“The aim would be to speak to people who currently use the facility so we can get everything right, so it’s something people want to use.

“There never is any guarantee in the current economic climate but we have got to make sure the council makes it a priority.”

Coun Pinnock said ward councillors hoped to “start the ball rolling” at the budget meeting with a request for around £2-£3m.

With less than three years until the demolition, she said the aim was to build the new centre before the existing one is lost.