Olympic borough dismisses internet rumour that Atherton centre will be turned into car park

NEWHAM council has hit back at claims that it will not replace the Atherton leisure centre and its swimming pools. It has also denied a rumour that it will turn the site into a car park.

The announcement last month that the borough hosting next year’s Olympics would demolish the privately run Stratford E15 4JF building  shocked residents. They are annoyed they will have to travel to Plaistow and East Ham for a substitute for a centre in use for more than 70 years. The Olympic Games aquatics centre is less than a mile away.

The council insisted to Loving Dalston that it will not use the land for parking, even temporarily, once the site at the corner of Atherton and Romford roads has been levelled.

A protester, “Jon”, wrote on an internet petition to save the centre: “We have received some disturbing news from an insider within Newham Council… that Newham Council plan to demolish Atherton and use the site in some way to generate short term revenue during the Olympics (such as a carpark).”

The council contended that rising maintenance costs left it no choice but to close the Atherton at the end of the year. Roof repairs to the big swimming pool had risen to £250,000 since the discovery of deadly asbestos.

The West Ham Municipal Baths, as the centre was named when it opened in 1934, featured three pools, including one that could be converted to a concert hall for orchestral music, opera, ballet, ballroom dancing and a boxing/wrestling arena. The council said that despite the Atherton’s age, it is not listed.

Dr Graeme Betts, Newham council’s executive director for leisure, told Loving Dalston: “The centre will be rebuilt as soon as possible as a modern centre with a pool, located on the existing site.”

“We have started consulting with residents and centre users. Once we have information on what they would like, we will formalise our plans, including the construction timetable, and allocate funds for the rebuilding.”

* Photograph © Andrew Baker. The council advises anyone wanting to be kept up to date on the Atherton to email leisure@newham.gov.uk

* Online petition: http://www.notsponsored.co.uk/



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One thought on “Olympic borough dismisses internet rumour that Atherton centre will be turned into car park

  1. Here are the facts:
    1) In 2004, and in response to concerns that Atherton was to be closed, the mayor’s office stated: “If there were any such plans, they would be the subject of a full community consultation.”
    2) On 22 September 2011 Newham council took the decision to close the only leisure centre in E15; with NO consultation with the community.
    3) There will be no leisure facilities in E15 for the foreseeable future.
    4) Remaining Newham leisure centres do not have the capacity to cope with the closure.
    5) The nearest leisure centre (according to Transport for London) takes 39 minutes to reach by public transport.
    6) The council is closing the leisure centre with no planning, architectural plans or funds in place.
    7) The council’s own report states that “there is significant risk that the capital financing will not be secured for a replacement facility”.
    Today the council is again making another promise, this time to rebuild Atherton but with no timescales, no plans, no money and no support from the community. What do you think is the likely outcome?

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