Fury over plans to end sports centre funding

26/9/09- Free Open Day at Rye Sports Centre.  AH40204c.'Photo by Steve Hunnisett
26/9/09- Free Open Day at Rye Sports Centre. AH40204c.'Photo by Steve Hunnisett

Without continued subsidy Rye sports centre and swimming pool would need to cut back on hours, close part of its services or close altogether claims Labour parliamentary candidate Sarah Owen.

She said: “Options being examined byRother include encouraging other providers, such as Rye Academy to take-on part of the service, although this could involve the centre’s services being broken up or the pool being closed.”

Former Rye Swimming Pool Association member Steve Blattman said: “We spent years campaigning for this centre and I find it bizarre that Rother District Council want to withdraw funding for it.

“If they pull out it will be disastrous for our community. I question the priorities on spending. You see massive levels of investment in other parts of Rother - we seem to be the poor relation of Bexhill.

“We all benefit from its continued use and support - the positive health benefits have a knock-on to the NHS and Social Care. The Council needs to think again.”

Ms Owen said: “I am saddened Rother District Council has not sought to involve local people in this decision – especially those who raised so much money for it - and I urge them to do so. I for one will be doing what I can to prevent the closure of any service at the centre.”

But a joint statement issued by Rye MP Amber Rudd, county council leader Keith Glazier and Rye district councillor Lord Ampthill said: “Before residents pay any attention to Labour’s false assertions that the Rye Sports Centre will close, let’s be clear, the Rye Sports Centre is not due for closure.

“Firstly, the Sports Centre Advisory Group are meeting to look at the new draft contract for 2016 that will shortly go out to tender. Secondly, the swimming pool, which is separate to the Sports Hall, is locked into a contract that will not end any time before 2024. Thirdly, the Sports Centre is under a joint use agreement, which cannot broken easily, and the funding from Rother District Council will not be withdrawn as there would follow a penalty of £1.9million to be paid to Sports England.

“We are appalled that the local Labour Party have launched such a negative and cynical campaign.

“They have not consulted with those involved with the future of the Rye Sports Centre, or the Sports Centre Advisory Group working on it, which is odd as the Chairman of the Advisory Group is Cllr Souster, a Labour Councillor for Rye.

“This outburst appears designed to scaremonger and cynically talk down our town. The residents of Rye deserve better than this, and we ask that rational debate plays dominance in any campaigns.”