Harwich Town Council unanimously objects to the withdrawal of local sports and leisure facilities

Harwich Town Council has reacted angrily to the refusal of Tendring District Council to extend the transition period after TDC withdrew from the joint user agreement that allowed public use of the sports and leisure facilities at the Harwich sports centre.

There is large local opposition and anger to TDC’s decision to pull the plug on the joint user agreement, but it had been expected that the Labour opposition budget amendment designed to extend the handover period to give time to seek a way forward would be accepted by TDC’s Conservative led administration. Instead, the 21 strong block Conservative vote was used to vote down the amendment making it extremely difficult for the wide range of sports and leisure facilities to be saved for public use.

Cllr. Ivan Henderson says, “Anyone watching the recording of the TDC Budget meeting will see how hard we tried to persuade the Conservative led administration to allow more time to save these local facilities for the local community but will also see how, one by one, they all voted to slam the door in our face. It seems to us that they are only interested in their major investment project into Clacton Leisure Centre.”

As a result of this shock action Cllr. Maria Fowler tabled an emergency motion at Wednesday’s meeting of Harwich Town Council which received unanimous support.

The motion reads:

Propose that, Harwich Town Council writes to the CEO of Tendring District Council to advise him of the anger and concern being expressed by residents and shared by this council resulting from the decision by TDC to withdraw from the joint user agreement with the Sigma Trust, effectively ending public use of the Harwich Sports Centre.

The council also wishes to remind TDC of its stated assurance in its recently adopted Local Plan that:

• ‘The Council will work with partners and sports providers across the district to maintain, expand and improve the quality and accessibility of public open space, sports and recreational facilities of different types.’ (p51) and calls on TDC to fulfil its obligation resulting from this commitment.

Cllr. Maria Fowler, who tabled the emergency motion on behalf of the Labour Group on Harwich Town Council, says

“It is important that we show those running TDC that there is genuine anger amongst local residents over this dreadful decision. I am very pleased though not surprised that the motion had unanimous support and we can only hope that it makes TDC take a step back to think about how it is treating the residents of the Harwich Peninsula and surrounding villages.”

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Press Officer, Garry Calver on 01255 551940