Game over - pools will be demolished

Protesters gather at Castleford swimming pool.
Protesters gather at Castleford swimming pool.

Two leisure centres which were shut down despite huge backlash from the community will be demolished.

Castleford Swimming Pool and Knottingley Sports Centre were closed in a cost-cutting move by Wakefield Council in February. The authority has now put the Castleford facility on the market and is inviting expressions of interest by the end of the month. The building will be knocked down as part of the sale.

The council also plans to demolish Knottingley’s centre by the end of September.

Michael Clements, assistant chief executive for resources and governance said: “We delayed our initial decommissioning and demolition schedule for the Knottingley building so that a community group interested in the facility could have more time to put together their proposal.

“Unfortunately, this group are no longer moving forward with their bid so work has restarted to prepare the Knottingley site for demolition.”

Retired teacher Andy Tagger, who campaigned to keep both pools open said he “despaired greatly” that they would be demolished before plans for a new £14.8m leisure centre in Pontefract Park were finalised.

Referring to Knottingley’s sports centre, he said: “It disappoints me that a significant community resource in one of the most disadvantaged areas of Wakefield is now due to be knocked down.”

Pontefract and Castleford MP Yvette Cooper urged the council to plan for “desperately needed” new facilities in Knottingley in particular.

She said: “It is deeply, deeply disappointing that it has come to this - it shows the awful impact of austerity on our public services.

“We managed to get a six month breathing space for local community organisations to have the chance to take over the pools. But so far no one has come up with a plan and I think that’s partly because of the poor state the buildings have now fallen into.

“It’s just not fair. The other pools are overstretched and Knottingley urgently needs new community facilities.”

The council said it would ensure any sale would “complement and enhance” the communities.