Pendle Leisure Centre sauna closure: the heat is on

Colne Leisure Centre members Leonard Kershaw, Jim McKiernan, Gerald Hollos and Martin Baldwin who are outraged after the sauna was cut from the council budget.
Colne Leisure Centre members Leonard Kershaw, Jim McKiernan, Gerald Hollos and Martin Baldwin who are outraged after the sauna was cut from the council budget.

PENDLE Leisure Centre’s sauna is expected to close its doors for good at the end of the month.

But outraged users have said they are going to fight to keep it open.

The facility, in Crown Way, Colne, was threatened with closure three to four years ago, but was saved after residents and Coun. Ann Kerrigan managed to source an affordable quote for repair works.

However, at the last Pendle Council budget meeting, every political party voted to give the sauna the axe once and for all — leaving campaigners feeling “short-changed”.

Martin Baldwin (57), who previously fronted the sauna protest, said: “They should be investing in more facilities, and that would encourage people to use them.

“It is another nail in the coffin for Pendle Leisure Centre.”

Manzar Iqbal (46) added: “I am very active as a community and youth manager, and I feel I have a duty to do something about this.

“There has been absolutely no signs or any literature regarding the closure of the sauna.

“Not only is the facility used for health reasons, but it also serves the holistic needs of the community.”

And Activo member Gerald Hollos (66), of Venables Avenue, said: “It is all right these people saying it should close, but Colne always seems to be the poor relative.

“It might only be the sauna this week, but could it be the leisure centre next week?”

News of the sauna’s closure has sparked mixed reactions from local councillors.

While council leader Coun. Joe Cooney feels the facility is no longer “fit for purpose”, Coun. Kerrigan believes the closure is “one of the casualties” that has come from having to compromise in a joint budget.

She said: “Unfortunately it has been a yearly item on the list of potential cuts for Pendle Leisure Trust and this time I failed in being able to do anything to save it.

“I regret this absolutely but anyone who was at that meeting of the council will also see that I voted for the budget, which was a compromise and the best we could agree.

“Along with other councillors I have done my best to keep it going as long as possible.

“I can only apologise to those people who have fought so hard to keep the sauna at Colne going.”

But Coun. Cooney argued: “We still have a sauna at Pendle Wavelengths.

“I would urge anybody to go and have a look at the Pendle Leisure Centre sauna and the compare it with the new facilities at Pendle Wavelengths.”

By closing the sauna suite, Pendle Council will make a saving of £7,500 per year.

Councillors also agreed to close Pendle Leisure Centre and West Craven Sports Centre for two weeks in December and January, saving nearly £20,000.