Game over!

PUBLISHED: 13:36 27 September 2007 | UPDATED: 12:52 04 May 2010

LITTLEPORT Leisure Centre is on the brink of closure. Unpaid debts of £40,000, a reluctance to increase membership costs and a building in need of refurbishment have pushed the centre to crisis point. Despite its troubles, the management committee has bee

LITTLEPORT Leisure Centre is on the brink of closure.

Unpaid debts of £40,000, a reluctance to increase membership costs and a building in need of refurbishment have pushed the centre to crisis point.

Despite its troubles, the management committee has been told there will be no cash from the district or parish councils to bail it out.

If it is forced to call in the receiver the centre, which is home to 30 clubs and societies, could stay closed for up to two years while its finances are sorted out, warned district and parish councillor Fred Brown.

He chaired crisis talks between the centre's management and the district council and warned that a halt should be called sooner rather than later.

"Either the current structure changes voluntarily or the receiver will have to come in, which would mean closure for two years while legal wrangling goes on," he said.

"They should call a halt sooner rather than later. What we want is a sustainable leisure centre."

District and parish councillor Andy Wright, who was instrumental in getting the centre built in the 1960s, said the district council could not spend ratepayers' money on a centre it was not certain would survive in the long term.

"But it is in nobody's interest to see it close," he added.

The Ely Standard revealed exclusively in January that the leisure centre had been undercharged for electricity, leaving it struggling to pay a £25,000 bill.

Management committee chairman Lee Matthews is determined to fight back and a letter has been sent to the centre's 800 members asking for cash help.

Mr Matthews, who took over as chairman 10 months ago, said: "It is a cash flow problem. We have had so much support from the members and the Littleport community.

"We have been told we could get grants if the centre management were to change but I am not willing to give in to political pressure.

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