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Southwark’s only public squash courts to be sacrificed for swimming pool

The only public squash courts in Southwark are likely to be lost when the Elephant & Castle Leisure Centre is redeveloped, a council cabinet member has confirmed.

Elephant Leisure Centre
Part of the site of the current leisure centre will be sold for housing to help fund the new swimming pool and other facilities

Last month Southwark Council's cabinet agreed to press ahead with plans to redevelop the Elephant & Castle Leisure Centre to include a 25-metre swimming pool.

Cllr Geoffrey Thornton (Lib Dem, Cathedrals ward) questioned the cabinet member for regeneration, Labour's Fiona Colley, at last week's Council Assembly meeting.

Cllr Thornton welcomed the confirmation that a swimming pool is to be included in the development but urged the cabinet member to ensure that sporting space is maximised in the new centre.

We have previously reported that the proposals for the new centre will include a sports hall half the size of the existing facility despite the popularity of the centre for netball and basketball.

"Can I also add a note of concern about the proposed loss of two sports hall courts and the only public squash courts in the borough?" asked Cllr Thornton at members' question time.

"I don't think that it is an either-or choice between a new swimming pool or a decent sized sports hall."

He also noted the concern of Sport England and the Pro-Active Central London organisation about the potential loss of the indoor sports facilities at Elephant & Castle.

"We will be trying to find additional funding but we are in a position where there's not a lot of funding around," replied Cllr Fiona Colley.

"I'm not sure that there will be additional funding coming from other sources as there has been in the past.

"It would be nice to be providing like-for-like as well as the swimming pool which people have been too long without.

"We're not willing to wait more than a decade for a new swimming pool if that is the proposal coming from the other side of the chamber.

"If we can provide more money to provide better facilities that would be great, but I'm not very hopeful that that will be the case."

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