Time to stop vandalism at sports centre

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Concerns have been raised over vandalism at the recently-closed Knottingley Sports Centre.

Wakefield Council shut the facility, as well as Castleford Swimming Pool, in a cost-cutting move in February, as it finalised plans to build a new leisure centre for the Five Towns in Pontefract Park.

The site has since remained empty and one local resident told The Express it was already falling into disrepair.

Donna Parker, who used the centre several times each week, said: “It’s getting more and more vandalised by the day.

“A lot of the windows have been smashed and people have been inside ripping up chairs and furniture.

“And it is dangerous. I’m concerned that somebody will get hurt. It needs to be made secure. Nobody is going to want to take it on in the state it is in now. It’s such a shame to see it closed down.”

The council said it temporarily postponed demolishing the site, whilst it explored the possibility of a community takeover.

Michael Clements, assistant chief executive for resources and governance, said: “Keeping the site safe and secure is very important. I am asking residents and businesses to immediately report any anti-social behaviour to the police.

“The council is holding daily and nightly security patrols and inspections at the site. Security shutters have also been put in place to deter people from entering the building.

“We are also working with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and West Yorkshire Police on this matter.”

He said the authority was in discussions with groups, who have expressed interest in taking on the site as part of a Community Asset Transfer. They need to demonstrate they have funds to support the centre.

If they cannot meet the financial criteria, the council will begin demolishing the building by the start of July.