Glenda backs campaign to Save Charteris Sports Centre

Glenda Jackson, MP for Hampstead and Kilburn, has added her voice to a campaign to stop the closure of a much-loved sports and community centre in north-west London.
Charteris Sports Centre in Kilburn is a ‘hub’ for a range of health and fitness, community, youth and crime prevention activities. The centre is set to close on 1 April unless local residents can persuade Brent Council to reverse its plans.
Ms Jackson is backing a resident-led campaign to keep the centre open, and has urged her Labour colleagues in charge of Brent to give the ‘Save Charteris’ group more time to develop alternative plans for running the facility.
“Charteris is more than just a sports centre; it is developing the seed corn of the future,” said Ms Jackson. “Too many places like the Charteris Sports Centre are closing and local users need more time to prepare a plan for ensuring that it keeps open.
“The fault lies with government cuts, but we must do what we can to keep this very special community facility open and I will help as much as I can. It provides an irreplaceable service to the local community.”
Local police, GPs, sports groups and residents are concerned that the centre’s closure will have a devastating impact on Kilburn, where a third of children are obese or overweight, and life expectancy levels are the lowest in Brent.
Nearly 1,000 people have now signed a petition to save Charteris Sports Centre and a ‘Use it or lose it’ campaign has been launched via the ‘Save Charteris’ Facebook page. The group will lobby Brent’s executive committee on 15 February but has only been given until 21 February to submit its proposals for saving the centre – a deadline that Ms Jackson says is too short.
Simon Rogers, chair of Brent Eleven Streets residents association says: “Closing this centre when health and well-being is a priority for Kilburn is a false economy, particularly when the 2012 Olympics is expected to boost participation in sport.
“Charteris is a central hub for the community and has strong support from residents young and old. We will fight to save it.”

PS Kilburn Labour Party members have enlisted the help of Cllr Mary Arnold in the fight to save the centre and have lobbied Cllr James Powney, the lead member involved in the decision. It is clear the council has deliberately been put in an impossible position by the Government (which, surprise surprise, cut the funding to Bexley and Richmond by far less than it did to Brent.

However, despite the lead taken by Lib Dem councillors in other parts of the country complaining about the speed of cuts being forced through by Eric Pickles, Lib Dems here who have climbed on the Save Charteris bandwagon are curiously reluctant to lobby their own leadership. Surely this can’t be because they are using the situation merely as a cynical way to kick the council, can it? The other possibility is that they lack the political balls to do anything other than posture from the sidelines.

Perhaps it is not just Sarah Teather at whom we should be chanting “Shame On You For Turning Blue”.

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