Karen Buck MP
Labour MP for Westminster North, Karen Buck, provides this week's Constituency Matters column.
Westminster Council’s proposal to close the Jubilee Sports Centre in favour of a re-built leisure centre on the site currently used by the Moberly centre has run into what, for them, is probably unexpected opposition.
Despite claims that every home within two miles was leafleted about the plans, responses pouring in to local councillors and to me express shock and surprise. Many pointed out the irony of putting forward the closure of the Jubilee Centre this year of all years.
Westminster Council’s argument is that both Jubilee and Moberly centres can be re-built at no net cost, and up to £600,000 cut from the operating costs, if the Jubilee site is given over to the building of new homes. Whilst appreciating that the massive cuts in local council budgets make it essential that every scheme is tested for the best value for money, local Labour councillors and I have a great many concerns.
We do not like the fact that a sports and leisure facility currently based in the heart of Queen’s Park will be moved to a site that is technically in Brent. This will make the pool and other facilities currently running out of the Jubilee much less convenient for many local residents.
Queen’s Park is one of the most socially and economically deprived communities in the country, and the Mozart is one of the most deprived estates. North Westminster is the most densely populated area in Britain. The closure of the Jubilee cannot but impact upon the area, which arguably needs more leisure facilities, not fewer.
Every single one of the 130 or so new homes to be built will be sold at open market value and will do nothing to ease the area's affordable housing crisis. We need new homes for sale, but we also urgently need more shared ownership and affordable rented homes as well.
I hope a compromise solution can be found and ward councillors and I will be working to that end. I welcome reader’s views, by e-mail to BuckK@parliament.uk, or by writing to me at the House of Commons, London SW!A OAA.