Leisure centre wanted by 2019

Active Northumberland's chief executive hopes Berwick could have a new leisure centre within two years.

Friday, 27th January 2017, 7:37 am
The Swan Centre sports centre in Berwick.

Lorraine Dewison admits the target might be optimistic but told Berwick Town Council that it was a case of ‘the sooner the better’.

“I would like to think that within two years we will hopefully be getting into the new centre,” she said. “That’s optimistic but the sooner we can get in, the sooner we can start making sure it pays for itself.”

The ‘significant’ cost of refurbishing the Swan Centre had persuaded Active Northumberland and Northumberland County Council to look at other options.

However, there are still question marks surrounding the size of budget available for the Berwick project, the potential location of a new site and the type of facilities it might offer.

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The issue will be going out to public consultation soon and they want local residents to put forward their ideas first.

Nigel Walsh, Active Northumberland service manager for culture, heritage and libraries, said: “This is very much the start of the discussion in Berwick following the announcement in December of new leisure facilities for the town.

“There has already been speculation as to whether it is a refurbishment of the existing centre or a new site. The straight answer is that it’s not determined at this stage but there is a commitment there to invest in leisure.”

Damon Barnaby, of the county council’s property services team, added: “We do need local knowledge so we can make a collaborative decision.”

A £3.5 million refurbishment of the Swan Centre was announced last summer.

“I asked the leader of the council to reconsider because it was a lot of money and I didn’t think it was delivering value for money,” said Mrs Dewison. “I felt we could deliver something bigger and better, something good for Berwick people but also to attract people from south of Edinburgh and north of Newcastle.”