About Gateshead College
Gateshead College is an educational management institute. Gateshead College provides business training, bespoke apprenticeships, higher education, further education, funded training, and apprenticeships solutions. It is based in Gateshead, England.
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Latest Gateshead College News
Jan 21, 2023
Why Gateshead wants to build a £350m arena while shutting down 'unaffordable' leisure centres Campaigners have questioned why the huge Quays redevelopment was put forward for a Levelling Up Fund bid, instead of help for Gateshead's struggling leisure centres 06:00, 21 JAN 2023 Bookmark Plans for the new Sage arena on the Gateshead Quayside and (inset) leisure centre campaigner Layla Barclay Group 28 Sign up for free to get the latest North East news and updates delivered straight to your inbox Invalid emailSomething went wrong, please try again later. Sign Up We use your sign-up to provide content in the ways you've consented to and improve our understanding of you. This means that we may include adverts from us and third parties based on our knowledge of you. We also may change the frequency you receive our emails from us in order to keep you up to date and give you the best relevant information possible. As always you can unsubscribe at any time. More info Group 28 At the same time on Wednesday afternoon, two very different news stories were about to hit the people of Gateshead. First, the confirmation of what many locals have feared for some months: councillors will be asked next week to sign off on the closure of two treasured but “unaffordable” leisure centres because of budget cuts. But as papers were being published setting out those devastating plans for Gateshead Leisure Centre and Birtley’s swimming pool, details were filtering through that the council was about to win £20m from the Government’s Levelling Up Fund (LUF) to help build a “transformational” new arena and conference centre on the south bank of the Tyne. For the passionate campaigners who have fought tooth and nail to try and save their leisure centres from disaster, the comparison was jarring. The thought of a massive arena complex being built, with an investment upwards of £350m coming mostly from the private sector, at a time when facilities that have served communities for decades could be about to disappear is unpalatable for some. Gateshead Leisure Centre, less than two miles from where the new Sage Arena will be built, has been deemed the greatest financial burden on the council’s leisure services – needing a £684,000 subsidy to cover its losses this year and with £9m of expected repairs needed over the next decade. Campaigners’ question is obvious: why was the Quays project chosen for Gateshead’s bid to both the first and second rounds of the LUF, instead of the leisure centre? Layla Barclay, of the Save Leisure Gateshead group, said: “It was really bad timing [on Wednesday] with the levelling up money being announced. People have been saying right from the beginning of our campaign that the LUF should have been used for the leisure centre’s repairs. Gateshead Leisure Centre (Image: Newcastle Chronicle) “Or it could have been used to build a new, sustainable leisure centre in Gateshead that would have been lower cost to run and energy efficient. That could have been done.” The choice to pursue extra funding needed to cope with the spiralling costs of the arena build has been compared to Gateshead’s neighbours in Newcastle, who won £20m in the LUF’s first set of allocations to build a new leisure centre in West Denton – replacing a pool that had been shut down in 2020 due to financial constraints. But Gateshead Council leader Martin Gannon, who has seen his authority forced to slash its annual spending by £179m due to austerity measures since 2010, believes that the running costs of Gateshead’s leisure services would still be “unsustainable” even if LUF money was used for major renovations or to build a new, more efficient centre. Explaining why the Quays redevelopment was prioritised for LUF bids, he said: “The scheme is largely funded by private sector investment and brings revenue to Gateshead Council, meaning that the surplus made can be invested back into essential Council services. This is in addition to it being a huge contributor of jobs, employment opportunities and attracting visitors to the region. “It is estimated that the scheme will provide 2000 jobs, with operators who will engage positively to employ local people with Working Gateshead, including 650 construction jobs, working with contractors and Gateshead College to establish a construction training village. Read More “The potential ongoing economic impact is transformational for the businesses and residents of the borough, with a direct investment of over £99m per annum in local economy and an additional £70m of direct investment beyond the venue itself, particularly in local hospitality sector.” Of course, there is a larger funding picture at play here and bigger questions to be asked about how local councils can survive a looming financial crisis over the coming years. Labour has been fiercely critical of the Conservative Government’s means of dishing out cash to local authorities by forcing them to bid against each other, with shadow levelling up secretary Lisa Nandy calling the LUF a “Hunger Games-style contest” which only offered a partial refund for resources stripped out of communities through austerity measures. A prominent Tory, West Midlands mayor Andy Street, has lashed out this week too – claiming that the “bidding and begging-bowl culture is broken”. Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove insists the LUF will “revitalise communities that have historically been overlooked but are bursting with potential,” while the Government has confirmed that a third round of funding will be opened for applications. Asked if Gateshead would consider using its next bid to pay for renovations to existing leisure centres or to build a new leisure centre, Coun Gannon again claimed this would “not negate the existing revenue problems”. The £20m secured for the arena development comes with strict conditions, meaning it can only be spent on that site and could not be reallocated to another Gateshead Council project. Jacqueline Ward has repeatedly challenged the council on why the Quays project was chosen for the LUF bids and says the council should “absolutely” try to use the next round to save her beloved Gateshead Leisure Centre. She added: “They say that it [the arena] is going to bring business to the Quayside, but then people will go into Newcastle – what is the benefit to the rest of Gateshead? The council is effectively doing this on Newcastle’s behalf.” The 58-year-old is worried about the impact on people’s physical and mental health if their local leisure centre shuts – with particular concern for the disabled and for the large Jewish community that use the Gateshead Leisure Centre. She said: “The council are making leisure services inaccessible and unaffordable for a lot of people.” Read More:
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