George Campbell Leisure Centre in March

Plans for new March leisure centre dropped in favour of cheaper upgrade

Wednesday, February 20, 2013
2.56 PM

PLANS for a new multi-million pound leisure centre in March have been scrapped in favour of a more modest refurbishment of the George Campbell complex, it was revealed this week.

A year ago, Fenland District Council leader Councillor Alan Melton outlined his vision for a new leisure centre and pool with wave machines that could provide March with a massive tourist boost.

But Councillor Pop Jolley, portfolio holder for leisure, has confirmed that such a plan – costing £15-20million – is not an option in the current economic climate.

“I do not think it is the right time for the district to be spending that money,” he said. “The leader does want to see something substantial built, but we need to make sure the area can sustain it.

“I don’t think we should spend a lot of money on consultants, and burden residents with that cost.

“We are moving forward with plans for an upgrade instead, mainly to the fitness suite and also to upgrade the swimming pool changing rooms,” he said. “There will be no wave machine installed at the pool.”

Cllr Jolley, who acknowledges the George Campbell Leisure Centre is “definitely feeling its age,” said funds for the £300,000 refurbishment is already available in the budget. He wants to go ahead with the upgrade scheme as soon as possible.

Such plans were drawn up some time ago, added Cllr Jolley.

“I am going to look at these and see if they are what the town really wants,” he said. “The refurbishment will hopefully see us through the next five years, perhaps by then the economy will have turned round, and we might find other ways of doing things.”

The £300,000 spend would include some new state-of the art fitness equipment, and a possible small extension to the building.

“The fitness equipment could be moved into a new building in the future,” added Cllr Jolley. “I don’t want to see money chucked down the drain.”