Children 'cheated' over Wednesbury sports centre closure

  • Published
Image source, Daniel Fox
Image caption,
Bustleholme FC manager Daniel Fox said up to 400 children used the centre

The closure of a sports centre with just days' notice has left hundreds of children with nowhere to train, a football team says.

Pulse Soccer and Fitness in Wednesbury said in a post on social media on 26 July that it had been informed it must stop operations, with its last day being 31 July.

It said circumstances were out of its control.

The ownership of the centre is unclear.

However, the council - which said it was looking to relocate users without facilities - confirmed the centre was privately owned.

Pulse's statement came amid reports the venue was making way for housing, but a neighbouring school and the local authority have said no such plans were under discussion.

Bustleholme FC boss Daniel Fox said the closure affected up to 400 children who used the centre, adding parents felt cheated.

He said he was shocked by the news and that the children's mental health would be affected if they could not play the sport they loved.

The grassroots club has members from the age of three up to adults who play on all-weather pitches at Pulse during winter.

"We've not told the children and I don't think we will, we just need to find alternatives," Mr Fox said.

Image source, Daniel Fox
Image caption,
Mr Fox said following England's Euros 2022 win he had lots of girls now wanting to play football

Laura Rollins, Sandwell Council's cabinet member for leisure and tourism, said: "Like many residents, we are concerned about the sudden closure of the Pulse Centre.

"We are working with those who used the Pulse Centre to minimise disruption and relocate the clubs and activities that have been using this space over many years."

A planning application for housing on land adjacent to the centre by neighbouring Phoenix Collegiate School was approved by the council in November last year.

But the council and the school said there were no plans being considered for housing on the land where the sports centre was based.

Headteacher Mike Smith said the operation of the centre was terminated by the mutual agreement of all parties following lengthy discussions but could not comment further, including whether the school had a role, due to confidentiality reasons.

Campaigners have started a petition to reopen the centre and hope to raise the issue officially with the council.

Mr Fox said: "It was reasonably priced and the next place up is a good £11 or £12 per week more expensive and it's parents who ultimately pay.

"I know some angry parents who feel like they have been cheated."

He added: "For me as a coach I advertise equality for boys and girls and the uptake from girls after this Euros win will be massive, as it was after the World Cup, but now we can't provide the facilities."

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