STONE’S Westbridge Park leisure centre could be rebuilt to include a swimming pool — but a campaigning councillor fighting to ‘keep Westbridge green’ has said the park is no place for such a large building.
Stafford Borough Council’s latest plans for leisure facilities in Westbridge Park will be presented to the cabinet on Tuesday.
They include an ambitious recommendation to replace the ‘obsolete’ sports hall building at Westbridge Park with a new centre, which would include a six-lane, 25 metre swimming pool replacing the existing facilities at Alleyne’s Sports Centre.
But town councillor Rob Kenney told the Newsletter that Stone Business Park would be a more appropriate place to site a new leisure building.
Proposals to build on the park have sparked fierce objections from residents.
The Keep Westbridge Green petition, started by Councillor Kenney, has gathered more than 3,000 signatures, including more than 800 in one day last week.
Councillor Mike Williamson came under fire this week after branding the petition a ‘waste of time’ in the wake of the latest proposals.
Town councilor Mark Green has submitted a complaint to Stone town and Stafford borough councils after Councillor Williamson visited two town shops which have copies of the petition.
It was claimed that he had asked for the petitions to be removed, but speaking to the Newsletter yesterday Councillor Williamson said this was not the case — he had merely said the petitions were unnecessary.
“All I am saying is the petition is a waste of time as I have seen the proposals that are coming out in the meeting next week.
"The speculation about what is going on at Westbridge Park is ridiculous.”
The cabinet is due to approve the appointment of consultation experts, with up to £20,000 set aside for a public consultation on the proposals.
The results will be fed into the borough-wide local development plan.
Improvements to the town’s football pitch provision have also been recommended, with options including ‘centralising’ the pitches at Walton Common to replace existing ones at Westbridge Park.
Play areas for children would get a revamp, including the replacement of equipment for younger children and a place for teenagers.
In 2009 the younger children’s play equipment was removed from the park for health and safety reasons and has not been replaced.
But Councillor Kenney said: “The required size of leisure centre that is indicated in the report is the size of a football pitch and that is only the leisure centre building itself.
"It does not include a car park or any high-quality play facilities for all ages.
"Add the sizes of the new building, car park and play facilities together and it’s clear to anyone that such a development would not fit on the existing leisure centre site or indeed in the area on the left-hand side of Westbridge Park.
“To build such a development would mean having to encroach onto where the existing football pitches are, the area that is used by the Stone Festival and thr food and drink festival.