Call for top level talks after Academy sports centre decision

West Craven High School, Barnoldswick. Picture by Paul Heyes, Tuesday October 18, 2016.
West Craven High School, Barnoldswick. Picture by Paul Heyes, Tuesday October 18, 2016.
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A councillor is calling for top level talks on the future of sports provision at West Craven High School.

Coun. David Whipp has called for a meeting with leaders at the school in Kelbrook Road, Barnoldswick, after the Academy now running the school said it would stop using the adjacent sports centre at the end of this school year.

West Craven Leisure Centre, Barnoldswick. Picture by Paul Heyes, Tuesday October 18, 2016.

West Craven Leisure Centre, Barnoldswick. Picture by Paul Heyes, Tuesday October 18, 2016.

He tabled a resolution at the full meeting of Pendle Council last night calling for council support over the issue, describing the centre, opened in 1997 by then Mayor of Pendle Jo Belbin alongside Manchester United legend Sir Bobby Charlton, as a “vital facility”.

However, a spokesman for the Pendle Education Trust said a decision had been made based on the school’s usage figures of the centre, adding that students and their education remain a key priority, and a decision would never be made to jeopardise this.

Coun. Whipp said: “Twenty five years ago, we fought hard to build the sports hall at the West Craven Sports Centre which has provided excellent indoor sports facilities for the high school.

“Now the new Academy is saying they’ll turn the clock back a quarter of century and go back to the wholly inadequate gym in the school.

Coun. David Whipp at the opening of the West Craven Sports Centre in 1997, alongside the Mayor of Pendle Jo Belbin, schoolchildren and Sir Bobby Charlton (s)

Coun. David Whipp at the opening of the West Craven Sports Centre in 1997, alongside the Mayor of Pendle Jo Belbin, schoolchildren and Sir Bobby Charlton (s)

“This is an alarming development that jeopardises sport at the school and also the financial viability of the sports centre itself. The advent of the Academy has precipitated this avoidable crisis in sports provision.

“Going back to the 1990s, we campaigned for years to get a sports hall and learner pool at what was then just a swimming pool. After a lot of fund-raising we managed to get it built with the benefit of one of the first ever National Lottery grants.

“Although the school couldn’t put any capital investment into the development, they agreed to pay an amount every year towards the running costs for their use of the building.

“The school contribution has been over £40,000, but now the new Academy has offered only £10,000 a year and is due to quit the sports centre after this school year. This is a massive blow for pupils at the school and also undermines the future viability of the sports centre itself.

“The issue has been discussed at Pendle Council’s West Craven Area Committee and now I’ve tabled a resolution for the next full council meeting calling for top level talks to resolve this issue.

“I’m hoping we can get some sense on this. It’s not good enough to accept West Craven’s school sports provision going back to the dark ages.”

The spokesman said: “We are aware of concerns about Pendle Leisure Trust ceasing its contract with West Craven Academy following ongoing negotiations.

“Ensuring our students get the best possible education they can is an absolute priority for West Craven, and as such every decision we make has their interests at heart.

“We have decided that for the amount of time our students spent at the facilities, maintaining a contract with Pendle Leisure Trust is not a financially viable solution.

“Our facilities, including a multi-use games area, will not jeopardise sport at West Craven, and we will continue to provide a stimulating and challenging curriculum in the school sports hall.

“We are keen to see all of Pendle Education Trust’s academies developing their own resources, and this includes West Craven’s sports facilities.

“Pendle Leisure Trust will continue to work with us in our lettings service e.g. sports facilities at Colne Primet Academy.”