ANGRY councillors are calling on town hall bosses to save two under-threat sports centres in Harwich and Brightlingsea from closure.

Tendring Council has managed community use arrangements at Brightlingsea Sports Centre, based at the Colne School, and Harwich Sports Centre, based at Harwich and Dovercourt High School, for 30 years and 15 years respectively.

The agreement between the council and the Sigma Trust, which runs the school, originally ran until August, but was extended until the end of this month to allow for further consultation with residents.

Despite 94 per cent of the 500 respondents stating they believed the facilities were a valuable part of the community, council officers have recommended the agreement should come to an end on December 31.

Other options put forward include renewing the joint-use agreement, which would cost the council £147,000 in subsidies each year, or continuing with revised term and opening times.

Tendring councillor Ivan Henderson said: “Families - including myself - have used these centre for generations for football, squash, racketball, badminton and yoga.

“This will now come to an end if the council locks the doors on January 1.

“It is really bad organisation and management by the council to recommend ending the arrangement without knowing whether the Sigma Trust will allow it to be used by the public or what services will be available in the future.

“This will most likely mean the end for our sports centre.

I’m calling on the cabinet to renew the agreement and save our sports centres from closure.”

Clacton and Frinton Gazette:

  • Harwich Sports Centre

A report by the council said attendances at the centres have decreased annually and a “significant investment programme” is needed.

It added: “The council will work with Sigma Trust to explore whether block bookings, clubs and other hirers can be accommodated within the centres.

"The joint-use facilities also require investment and the cabinet would need to consider the viability of investing in facilities which the council does not own.”

The authority said it would work with the permanent staff employed at the facilities to find alternative employment.

“It is expected that there are suitable alternative positions for those contracted staff within the council’s existing sports facilities establishment,” it added.

A spokesman for Sigma Trust said: “We were supportive of signing the joint-use agreement with Tendring Council, but we note the recommendation to councillors.

“We have a positive working relationship with the council and we remain open to working with any suitable third parties to find a solution going forward.

"If the recommendation goes ahead, we can confirm that there will be no impact on our students with both sports centres remaining open for school use.”