There was an interesting report in Monday’s Express & Star (18th August 2014) which points out the project to replace Oak Park leisure centre in Walsall Wood and the similar facility in Bloxwich is to start ‘next month’.
The report, not available online, says the following:
Start on £24m leisure centres weeks away
Work on an ambitious £24 million project to build two new leisure centres in Walsall will start early next month.
Sod-cutting ceremonies will take place at both sites on the same day before demolition work gets under way.
Council leader Sean Coughlan said today: ‘These are exciting times.’
The authority is replacing dated centres at Leamore Park in Bloxwicn and Oak Park in Walsall Wood. Members gave unanimous backing to the scheme at a special meeting last week.
Councillor Coughlan, who took over as leader from Conservative chief Mike Bird last Monday, said: ‘It’s extremely good news that work will be starting in a few weeks time.
‘This day has been a long time coming and I’d like to give due credit to the previous administration for the work they have put in on the project.’
The existing centres will be demolished and the sites cleared before building work begins.
It is hoped the new facilities will help tackle the borough’s obesity problem. Most of the money for the centres will be borrowed and repaid over 25 years, with £2m coming from a government grant.
The council will not start paying any money back until 2015 when the building work is finished.
I’m wholly supportive of this project and am very pleased it’s going ahead after seemingly being kicked into the long grass earlier in the summer – and it’s also very gentlemanly of Sean Coughlan to credit the previous administration. You never got that kind of magnanimity from the previous lot.
However, I’m a bit concerned that they appear to be demolishing Oak Park before the new centre is built. As they won’t occupy the same physical ground space this seems a bit needless, and I’d be grateful if Walsall Council could issue more details on this.
Here’s the most recent plan of the Walsall Wood project to illustrate the point:
Of course, this could be creative or misunderstood reporting, but I think the community would appreciate some clarification on this – I know you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, but the less time spent without the facility the better – it’s a fair way to go to alternatives.