Bury Dragons diving club launches petition after Bury Council approves plans to demolish leisure centre (From This Is Lancashire)
Bury Dragons diving club launches petition after Bury Council approves plans to demolish leisure centre
A DIVING club determined to keep its sport alive in Bury is urging council chiefs to rethink plans which will leave it without a place to train.
Bury Dragons youngsters, who practise at Castle Leisure Centre in Bolton Street, are devastated proposals to demolish the centre and build a new one without diving facilities were given the green light.
Last week, the council’s planning committee gave the go-ahead to replace the facility with a supermarket and build a new pool in Knowsley Place.
A Bury Dragons e-petition addressed to council leader Cllr Mike Connolly decrying the failure of Bury’s Olympic legacy if the club closes has gained 430 signatures since its launch in June.
Bury Council’s planning report states discussions with Sport England had taken place regarding the loss of diving facilities — with the application making the representation that there are more suitable diving facilities at Manchester Aquatics.
But Bury Dragons says neither Bury Council nor developers has approached it as a club for their feedback on the proposals or to discuss the future of diving in Bury.
Anthony Hilton-Casey, Bury Dragons assistant coach, said the facilities in Manchester are shared with water polo and synchronised swimming and so would not be viable for the group’s training.
He said: “Our divers have up to five hours of wet training per week in Bury — time we could not get at the Manchester Aquatics Centre.
“At least 75 per cent of our divers live north of Bury with some travelling from Bolton, Preston and Accrington — for these children Manchester is too far to come.”
Mr Hilton-Casey said to ensure the survival of the club without a pool they would need use of dry diving facilities including foam pits with springboards – but these do not currently exist in the borough.
He added: “As it stands, when Bury closes there will be no proper competing club left in the whole of the North West.
“With the loss of Oldham next year and the lack of facilities in Liverpool, Bury is the last hope.”
The club, formed in 2010, currently has 24 active divers aged between six and 15, of whom 18 dive at a competition level and four at a national level.
Council bosses said the plans to build a supermarket on the site of Castle Leisure Centre and Bury’s former police headquarters were an attempt to rebalance the town centre’s shopping profile.
The proposals were passed by the planning committee earlier this month with no objections and notices have been placed at the leisure centre since June, stating it could shut within three and a half years.
Head coach Janet Ward, from Droylsden, said: “It would be interesting to know who in the diving community Sport England spoke with — certainly our views have not been sought.
“Most people cannot afford to travel more than a few miles for clubs at grassroots level and would not even consider trying the sport if they had to travel to Manchester on a regular basis on a school night.”
Cllr Tony Cummings, chairman of the council’s planning committee, said when the proposals were passed, the planning committee believed all stakeholders at Castle Leisure Centre had been consulted — including Bury Dragons.
He added: “What we are asked to decide on during a planning meeting is the application in front of us and whether the new building is suitable to stand on that site.”
A Sport England spokesman said they had been consulted on the proposed plans by Bury Council and would be responding to them shortly.
The petition can be seen here.
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