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The Socialist 24 February 2021 |
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Save John Carroll Leisure Centre
Geraint Thomas, Nottingham Socialist Party
John Carroll Leisure Centre, in the working-class Radford area of Nottingham, is threatened with closure in the latest £15.6m of cuts proposed by Nottingham Labour Council. Radford has seen most of its local services disappear, the leisure centre is virtually the only community amenity left.
Many services and groups operate from the centre, and the sports facilities provide local people with an alternative to street life. But over the years services have been run down, the last real investment in the centre was 15 years ago.
The 'Save John Carroll Leisure Centre' campaign (savejohncarroll.co.uk) has been founded by local residents and users of the centre in a determined bid to stop the closure, planned for June.
The closure would especially hit schools and older users who will struggle to travel to the next nearest leisure centre. The campaign is heaping pressure on councillors to oppose the closure in the March council meeting, but that will not be the end of it.
The council says that it is consulting on the closure proposals, but so far that has proved a sham. In a meeting with campaigners, the council leaders claimed that the centre is the least used, and that saving it would mean closing another two. It has clearly decided in advance that the centre will close.
We reject the attempt to pit working-class service users in the city against each other. Services should and can be protected. Councillors need to take serious action to block the cuts, using their remaining reserves and borrowing powers to defend services instead of propping up failing commercial ventures.
Passing on Tory cuts and removing services from the people of Nottingham is a political choice. The Tories are weak; even two or three councils taking a stand, and demanding funding from central government, could well result in yet another government U-turn.
There are no elections in Nottingham this year, but the Socialist Party is prepared to stand as part of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition against any councillors voting to impose cuts in future elections.