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Locals hit out at council’s ‘mismanagement’ of Christie Miller closure

THE news that Christie Miller Sports Centre is to close next month has continued to cause shockwaves, with the community up in arms about Wiltshire Council’s failure to provide alternative provision for members and clubs that use the facilities.

Locals have blasted the council for their ‘mismanagement’ of the closure that has given only six weeks’ notice for clubs to find a new home, leaving them with an uncertain future.

The news that the sports centre will close on Friday 19th October came earlier this month at the Melksham Area Board meeting, when Wiltshire Council cabinet member for campuses John Thomson, explained that it would cost up to £1million to make the building safe for use. 

On the Melksham News Facebook page, Nicola Wilkes said, “Wiltshire Council have shown once again their ineptitude and inability to properly plan and manage their facilities. Our councillors are not experienced business people and do not have the skills to run what is essentially a business with a multi million pound turnover.

“Perhaps it is time to take the politics out of our local authority and have councillors in place who really know what they are doing without a political agenda – more independent councillors.”

Local Allan Lawrence added, “Wasted opportunity. When I was 18/19 this was a very cool place to go in the evenings. Old school arcades, football table, pool table and a cafe/bar upstairs. This targeted the audience of 16 onwards which was great especially for 16-18 year olds that had a place to go to and a place to socialise. 

“It’s an awkward age being 16/17 and nowhere to go when your friends 18 and over are now in pubs. With a little more focus on that area of Christie Miller, that could have been a great place to relaunch everything just mentioned.”

Lynne Hoy said, “The council have let it go because there’s ££££££s for them in that land.”

Bowerhill resident Steve Jones said, “If the Council had wasted less money on vanity projects such as the campus and the Market Place, Melksham might still have a viable sports centre.”

One resident wrote to the Melksham News to say, “As your article indicates, there has not been clear communication with the relevant user groups who make use of the sports centre and this has led to a lot frustration and disappointment including people like me who use the sports centre on a daily basis. The council has done nothing to find facilities before they made the announcement and I doubt that they are making any effort now. 

“Also, we have been told by staff that the inspection took place back in April and the council was given six months to either improve or close the centre. They left it till the last minute and on the first week of the school year to make the announcement to close the sports centre without thinking of the implications that this has on staff, users, parents and instructors. This is a complete case of mismanagement!”

However, there is some good news for members of Christie Miller. Places Leisure – the company that manages both Christie Miller and Blue Pool – has said that 17 of their classes that take place at the centre will be relocated to the Melksham Assembly Hall. An upgrade of the resistance equipment available in the gym at Blue Pool is also planned.

A spokesperson for Christie Miller Sports Centre said, “We have been able to successfully relocate 17 of our classes – including our Active Health class – to Melksham Assembly Hall, which adjoins Melksham Blue Pool. Due to space restrictions and instructor availability, we have been unable to relocate all classes at this time, but will continue to review opportunities to reintroduce and grow classes where possible.”

The new timetable will be announced on social media, the Places Leisure website and in the press, the moment it is  finalised. 

Meanwhile, work is still ongoing to help find new facilities for the clubs made homeless by the closure.

The spokesperson said, “The Places Leisure staff across Wiltshire are looking to accommodate existing sports clubs and activity groups across the facilities that we manage on behalf of the council, in addition to the council’s facilities at Springfield and Devizes.”

One Response to Locals hit out at council’s ‘mismanagement’ of Christie Miller closure

  1. Derek Tate

    October 1, 2018 at 1:03 pm

    I read with interest and agree with the fury over the, not unexpected, closure of Cristie Miller without the new Campus being anyway near being built or even started.

    We are right to bitch at the appalling inefficiency of the County Council. But hang on a moment surely the total blame does not lie with them.

    Since the plans were first muted in the dim and distant past the Council income has been slashed by the government and I read today that the government intends to reduce the Council budgets by another 1.3 billion.

    The problem with slashing council budgets is that while initially it will force better efficiencies eventually the cuts lead to more and more inefficiencies which are what we are seeing. Redundancies unless brutally handled tend to lead to the most ambitious and knowledgeable leaving, also it can lead to a top heavy administration leading to little more than a demoralised talking shop which is what I believe we have now.

    I remember how operationally poor the council became towards the end of the Thatcher era and I think that is where we are now so lets put most of the blame where it should be on this and the last government.

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