Slaithwaite, November 6, 2023 – In a resounding chorus, young voices have joined the call to safeguard the future of the Colne Valley Leisure Centre, nestled in the heart of Slaithwaite. The rallying cry, ‘Save our teen gym!’ has been echoing through the community as the youth of Colne Valley speak out against the impending closure of their cherished hub of recreation.
The Teen Gym, operating diligently between the hours of 4 pm and 5 pm on weekdays, is in high demand, with every slot being reserved nightly. The gym’s capacity is limited to a mere 12 young enthusiasts, leading to a daily scramble among parents to secure a spot for their teenagers.
These young individuals, along with their parents, passionately advocate for the center, citing its crucial role in maintaining their physical and mental well-being. For them, the Colne Valley Leisure Centre is a sanctuary where calories and stress are both left behind.
The imminent threat to Colne Valley Leisure Centre emanates from a severe financial crisis gripping Kirklees Active Leisure (KAL), the charitable trust responsible for managing sports and leisure centers on behalf of Kirklees Council. The Council is tasked with making budget cuts totaling £47 million before the start of the next fiscal year in April 2024, rendering further financial support to KAL untenable. While the Council provided a £6 million bailout this year, funding is expected to plummet to a mere £2.55 million next year.
KAL, in collaboration with the Council, has initiated a public consultation, contemplating the permanent closure of several facilities, including Colne Valley Leisure Centre, Dewsbury Sports Centre (already shut ‘temporarily’ due to structural concerns), and Batley Sports & Tennis Centre in Howden Clough. However, the threat extends to all centers, with only Huddersfield Leisure Centre and Spen Valley Leisure Centre in Cleckheaton considered secure.
Parents vehemently stress the vital role that Colne Valley Leisure Centre plays in the lives of young people, particularly those with special educational needs. One parent emphasized, “The kids love it. There’s the Teen Gym and swimming, and it’s just amazing. It’s so important for mental and physical health, and young people with special educational needs, in particular, thrive on that kind of exercise.”
Another parent underlined the importance of supporting young people, stating, “Young people are our future, and it is vital they are supported. By creating a safe space for our children now, they can go on to sustain social development as well as a sense of belonging, not to mention the health and well-being benefits that exercise provides for confidence and self-belief.”
The young patrons of the Teen Gym also had their voices heard. Jenson expressed, “It’s great to keep fit every day and have my mates with me. It’s something we can do after school walking there and back together.” Zak added, “We have created our own program, and it’s great having your mates to work alongside. It’s a stress break after school!” George disclosed that without the center, he would be “unfit, have nothing to do, and not be able to see his friends.” His mother further elaborated on how the gym and pool had been a godsend, keeping George away from his Xbox and ensuring he stayed engaged in a safe environment. Jack and Tyler similarly lauded the facility for providing a close, accessible, and weather-independent space to stay active with their friends.
Colne Valley Labour councillor Beverley Addy, advocating for the preservation of the leisure center, emphasized the importance of fair funding from the Government. She said, “It’s great to see the youth speaking out to protect the center they use and signing up to help keep it open. These youngsters are very much part of the future of this facility and it’s wonderful they are speaking out in an effort to preserve it for themselves and generations to come.”
The campaign to safeguard the Colne Valley Leisure Centre, a critical hub for the community’s health and well-being, continues to gather momentum. The ‘Save Our Colne Valley Pool and Leisure Centre’ campaign has initiated its own survey, while the Kirklees Council consultation can be accessed through the official link. The fight to preserve this cherished institution is far from over.