Campaigners are keeping up the pressure as they anxiously wait for news about the future of three Kirklees sports facilities shut ‘temporarily’ until April.

Kirklees Active Leisure (KAL) closed Deighton Sports Arena and Batley Baths & Recreation Centre and the swimming pool at Colne Valley Leisure Centre in Slaithwaite in December.

KAL faced a cash crisis due to rising energy bills and took drastic action to slash costs at the end of the current financial year.

KAL is a charitable trust which manages sports and leisure facilities on behalf of Kirklees Council, and the council has pumped an extra £11 million into KAL over the last four years.

Now it has emerged that the council is ready to throw KAL a £6 million lifeline – but that might not been enough to ensure all three threatened facilities re-open.

The council’s ruling Labour group is to publish its annual budget proposals on Monday (February 13) which could shed some light on what the future holds for KAL.

It has been reported that Deighton Sports Arena – very much the heartbeat of the local community – could re-open but on a “limited capacity” while the pool at Slaithwaite will also be saved.

However, Batley Baths & Recreation Centre, a listed building which opened in 1893, is said to be too expensive to run and is earmarked for permanent closure.

Boarded up: Deighton Sports Arena

Campaign groups have been set up in Slaithwaite, Deighton and Batley and protests have been held as communities say physical and mental health and wellbeing is put at risk by the closures.

Batley & Spen Labour MP Kim Leadbeater has joined the Batley campaign and is pressing the Government – along with MPs of all parties – to include leisure centres in a scheme to give businesses and other organisations help with energy bills.

Campaigners in Slaithwaite have given a cautious welcome to rumours that their pool could be re-opened but are taking nothing for granted.

Clr Lesley Warner (Ind, Colne Valley) said campaigners would be out in the village today (Saturday February 11) between 11am and 1pm collecting signatures on a petition and there was a meeting with Colne Valley Tory MP Jason McCartney on Monday.

There were also plans to address another meeting of Kirklees Council.

Campaigners outside Huddersfield Town Hall. Pic by: Gordon Parks

“We really don’t know anything more than anyone else so we keep going,” said Clr Warner. “It might be that our pool is saved but we want to show solidarity with Deighton and Batley.

“I was at the rally in Batley last week and there is a real passion in the local community, particularly from Asian women for women-only sessions.

“We need to keep all our facilities open and even if the council does give KAL £6 million for another year, are we going to be back at square one this time next year? There has to be long-term solutions.”

The Local Government Association says that leisure facilities across the country have seen costs rise by 200% compared to the last ‘normal’ operating year in 2019 and “urgent support” is needed.