Colne sauna petition presented to Labour Party leader Ed Miliband

SUPPORT: Ed Miliband pictured with Manzar Iqbal, who is fronting Colne's sauna campaign (S)

SUPPORT: Ed Miliband pictured with Manzar Iqbal, who is fronting Colne's sauna campaign (S)

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A DEBATE over the possible closure of Pendle Leisure Centre’s sauna has heated up.

Over the past week campaigners have been working hard to share their reasons on why the Colne facility should not be closed this month.

They have attended Pendle Council’s Colne and District Committee, shown their petition to the leader of the Labour Party Ed Miliband and called for an emergency meeting between users and councillors.

Those fighting to keep the Crown Way sauna open believe that it is not only needed for recreational purposes, but for health reasons also.

And according to campaigner Manzar Iqbal, while Mr Miliband was “not surprised to see services and facilities close especially under the existing administration”, he did say “the whole issue is not right and must be upsetting for the 130 plus people who signed the petition”. He said the lobby group “should continue to fight for what we believe in and stand for”.

But at the council meeting some councillors argued that it was not the cost of closing the facility that is the problem, but that the real problem was the amount of money needed to improve it.

Responding, Mr Iqbal presented possible ways of sourcing money for refurbishment works:

l A restructure at Senior Management Team level at Pendle Leisure Centre.

l A pay cut for Pendle Leisure Centre’s SMT.

l Some of Pendle Council’s yearly funding to Pendle Leisure Centre to be prioritised for sauna facilities and modernising it.

l Money from Pendle Council’s Colne and District Committee budget to allow funding for sauna facilities.

l Money to be used from the Colne and District Committee’s capital programme.

He added: “Many users are senior citizens from the Pendle community and have been using this facility for many years.”

And lobby group member Martin Baldwin said: “Why has every other leisure centre in this area had up-to-date, state-of-the-art leisure facilities?”

This is the second time the sauna has been threatened with closure.

This time the leader of Pendle Council Coun. Joe Cooney has said he feels the sauna should be shut due to the fact it is out-of-date, would be too expensive to refurbish, and a small number of people use it.

At the meeting Coun. Cooney stated that just 17 people use the sauna twice or more a week, 13 people use it once a week and 16 people use it once a month.

He added: “We are in a very different place to where we were three years ago.

“I make the decisions in terms of facts. I couldn’t find any reason why the sauna was a viable thing to keep open.”

The debate will continue at Pendle Council’s Executive Committee meeting on Thursday, May 23rd where users will be presenting councillors with detailed proposals on how the sauna can be saved.