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Leisure centre funding refusal is 'slap in the face'

Councillors are furious with the decision to turn down a request for funding at Hawley Leisure Centre as neighbouring Hart and Frogmore centres cash in

Cllr Jeff Smith (L), Cllr Brian Blewett and Cllr Adrian Collett (M) are angry at the funding decision

Residents have received a ‘slap in the face’ after more than £41,000 in leisure centre funding was denied.

Blackwater and Hawley Town Council is furious after Hart District Council agreed to dish out money to its two leisure centres but ‘ignored’ the parish-run Hawley leisure centre.

The funding was available due to plans for 150 homes on Guillemont Park in Minley Road, Blackwater. As part of the developer’s financial contributions towards community infrastructure projects, a grant of £124,444, known as a section 106 agreement, was earmarked for leisure at Hart and Frogmore leisure centres.

The town council requested a three-way split of the money, with Hawley Leisure Centre being the closest to the proposed development. But it was refused at Hart’s planning committee meeting this month.

Since then, the two district councillors representing Hawley each submitted a letter of concern to Hart.

Cllr Graham Keene said: “It feels like a slap in the face. I think we should fight for it.

“We should be considered for funding but at the moment we are being fobbed off. I think as a matter of principle we need to follow up our concern.

“If we let it go we would be letting down our taxpayers in this parish.”

Town councillor Jeffrey Smith said it was ‘immoral’.

“I think it is unacceptable that Hart and Frogmore get half the funding each. Residents will have to pass our leisure centre to get to Frogmore.

“I think it’s biased. I really do feel quite strongly about it.”

District and town councillor Brian Blewett said the town council had been ‘ill-treated’.

“In my view, we should get a reasonable slice of the money,” Cllr Blewett added.

Adrian Collett, county councillor and chairman of Blackwater and Hawley Town Council, said he was not happy about the decision.

Cllr Collett said: “I do not think there is any justifiable reason to give the money just to the Hart District Council-owned leisure centres. Sharing the money three ways would have been a sensible idea.”

The district council does have a policy to give contributions towards parish leisure projects but only if the project is accepted by Hart and deemed appropriate.

Geoff Bonner, chief executive at Hart District Council, said: “We are happy to help any parish council get section 106 funding from development projects, but the proposals they come up with do have to meet the S106 qualifying criteria and Blackwater and Hawley have not so far come up with a project that does that.”

 

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