UTTOXETER people have spoken and nearly 2,000 have stated that they want their new leisure centre to remain in the town.
A petition signed by 1,797 people was handed to East Staffordshire Borough Council last week.
It called for the new leisure centre to be developed on the current site in Oldfields Road or on adjacent land, rather than move it to a brand new location out of town next to the A50.
The petition was launched jointly by the Uttoxeter Community Action Group and the Uttoxeter and District 50 Plus Forum who rejected the findings of a public consultation carried out by the borough council earlier this year.
The results of the consultation suggested that a new site off the A50 was the most-desired option but the group’s claimed that was not the case and questioned the way in which the consultation was carried out.
However, the action group and the 50 Plus Forum believe the current site provides the best access for Uttoxeter schools as well as the majority of townsfolk.
They also say a move to an out-of-town site would make access more difficult for residents and particularly schools and would represent an ‘unwelcome loss of an important community facility from the town centre’.
Vice-chairman of the Uttoxeter Community Action Group Jerry Latham (pictured) delivered the petition to the borough council and told last week’s meeting of the action group that he was also contacting each councillor on the authority.
He said: “We still have some forms outstanding but I can announce that so far we have 1,797 signatures and I will be delivering them to the borough council.
“The borough council have said that the opinions of the people of Uttoxeter will be a major factor in the final decision and I think this speaks volumes.
“I believe the dates for tenders (to carry out the leisure centre work) has expired so the council will have received those now.
“I am, though, disappointed that the tender documents only mention they are looking at tenders for the existing leisure centre site and the A50 site.
“It does not mention the adjacent land to the existing leisure centre and does not express what we have been saying.
“With careful project management the existing centre could remain open while a new improved facility is constructed, followed by refurbishment and incorporation of some parts of the existing centre.” As well as the 1,797 signatories, the petition has also been backed by Uttoxeter Town Council which also believes the leisure centre should remain on its current site.
East Staffordshire Borough Council leader Councillor Richard Grosvenor has stressed that ‘no decision has been made either formally or informally’ on where the new leisure centre will be built.