Tuesday 3rd March 2020, Moorside Community Primary School.
Approximately 50 local residents attended the Ovenden Ward Forum held at Moorside Community Primary School on Tuesday 3rd March 2020 to voice their concerns following events which took place at Threeways Sports Centre that morning. In particular, that the Council has now taken over direct management of the whole site and that the Council has had to close the Sports Centre at this point while it checks the safety of the building and the equipment.
Ward Forums are a place for local people to have their say on issues that matter to them. Therefore due to the large number of people who wanted to talk about Threeways at the meeting on Tuesday the published agenda was rearranged at short notice to focus exclusively on Threeways.
Agenda items that were not able to be addressed during the meeting were picked up by Councillors informally with individuals after the meeting or will be discussed at the next meeting.
Services in attendance
The meeting was attended by Calderdale Council Officers; Mark Thompson (Director – Regeneration & Strategy); Sarah Richardson (Public Services – Assistant Director of Customer Services); and Mike Terry (Building Control Manager). Calderdale Councillors Anne Collins, Bryan Smith and Helen Rivron hosted the meeting; and PC Chris Newton (West Yorkshire Police) and Calderdale Council Community Safety Wardens were also in attendance
Opening statement from Ward Councillor
Cllr. Anne Collins confirmed that the Council had taken back the lease from the Threeways Board and that the Council would be carrying out health and safety assessments and essential repairs. She stressed that only the Sport Centre had been closed and the rest of the Threeways Centre was operating as normal.
Cllr Collins said that over previous months local councillors had been involved in many meetings with council staff and Threeways trustees to find a sustainable way forward. The decision to take back the centre into Council ownership had cross- party support through two Council scrutiny panels.
Cllr. Anne Collins said that everyone involved agreed that that the Trustees have worked very hard over several years to manage and deliver important services to the community from the site and she asked that discussions should aim to establish a way forward
Update from Mark Thompson (Director – Regeneration & Strategy)
Mark Thompson outlined the issues of concern at Threeways and explained the Council’s duty to act in the best interest of the public.
He said there had been numerous discussions previously to try to address ongoing issues and that the Council had provided significant funding and other support to the Board to help the project succeed, including health and safety advice and works. However there was a serious concern for the health and safety of the public. Concerns include asbestos, inadequate doors, poor electrical safety, poor storage, inadequate fire escapes, a disabled fire alarm and risk of Legionella. Mr Thompson said although the Sports Centre is currently out of use, the Council was committed to keeping the other businesses running. There now is a team of officers based at Threeways Sports Centre to address the issues in the building.
Resident and community groups concerns
- Wheelchair Enabling Society (WES) – A WES representative said the group rents a space at the Sports Centre for wheelchair based exercise and play curling in the sports hall. There is £2k worth of equipment in the gym which the group currently can’t access. Asked if the Council will be able to offer an alternative venue.
- Martial Arts club – Representative who runs a martial arts group at the sports centre asked why he wasn’t notified of potential asbestos dangers if they were already known. Mike Terry (Building Control Manager) said that the building should have a plan in place for asbestos management and that although there is still a risk, the risk is very small.
- North Halifax Tae kwon do – Neil Capper, North Halifax Tae Kwon Do was concerned that the abrupt way in which the building was closed with no notice may cause issues for some of the Tae Kwon Do students with autism as this is a very big change to their routine. Later said that he was to attend a meeting to discuss the possibility of the Taekwondo Championships being held at the centre and said this would have provided wide publicity and important revenue for the centre and local economy but due to the closure this probably would not go ahead now.
- Unemployment – Staff members from the Sport Centre were upset to have found they are now unemployed in an event they felt was out of the blue with no notice. They had been told they had 15 minutes to leave the premises and felt the situation was handled poorly. Sarah Richardson said that council officers would be on site in coming days to speak to and offer advice to those members of staff who worked at the gym.
- Young resident – A young resident asked why the building was allowed to be used if these problems were already known and asked if alternative venues are easily accessible. Concerned that the closure will result in an increase in youth anti-social behavior now that the centre has been taken away.
- Keighley Road Surgery – Representative of Keighley Road Surgery stressed that the sports centre is an excellent community facility for maintaining good physical and mental health but the way in which it was closed down has and will very likely cause unnecessary distress to the local community.
- Building concern – Residents felt that the Council had already made its decision and that the sports centre will never reopen or operate again if found that the building is not financially viable. This lead to concern that the building will become a target of anti-social behavior.
- Alternative venues – Sarah Richardson (Public Services – Assistant Director of Customer Services) said she would be working with groups to identify alternative venues and that gym memberships from Threeways will still be honoured at other CMBC locations.
- Dani Worthington, Moorside Community Primary School head teacher offered use of the school hall for affected groups at weekends and evening, if the Council would be able to help with site supervision/staffing. Sarah Richardson said this was certainly something that could be explored.
- Future of the Sports Centre – The existing health and safety issues and the financial sustainably of the Centre will need to be assessed initially. It is likely that a meeting will then take place with ward councillors to discuss a way forward followed by public consultation.
- Future communications – Cllr Anne Collins suggested that Neighborhood Team/Ovenden Initiative could use its existing online communications as a way of keeping the community updated on official information about progress. They can be found online at https://halifaxnorthandeast.com or on Facebook at Halifax North and East or Twitter at @hxnorthandeast