A petition calling on Powys County Council to reverse its decision to close Staylittle Outdoor Centre has been handed to Council Leader Rosemarie Harris.
Maggie Fitzpatrick-Reeves, who started the petition when the closure was announced at the end of October, joined councillors at a PCC cabinet meeting on Tuesday to make the presentation.
More than 5,300 people added their names to the plea, with more than 900 leaving personal comments highlighting how the centre had impacted their lives.
One said: “I went to Staylittle with my Mid Wales primary school over 35 years ago and is one of the enduring positive memories and experiences of my primary school education.”
Another added: “I went to Staylittle as a child and still remember it as one of the best times I had as a child.
“My eldest daughter went recently and loved it, it would be a terrible shame if my youngest daughter and many others would miss out on this fabulous facility.”
After the handover, Ms Fitzpatrick-Reeves said: “I started this petition in hope that at least it would get a couple of hundred signatures. That it came to well over 5,000 was amazing. Talking to local people about how much it meant to them made me even more determined to present the petition in person to PCC.
“As a teenager, I was lucky enough to attend several centres like Staylittle. The emphasis on team work and non team games built up my self esteem and made me self confident.
“One thing that surprised me about today was that although Rosemarie Harris seemed aware of the petition she didn’t have a clue who I was – she must have kept her eyes and ears closed whenever it was in the press for the past four weeks.
“Powys County Council must stop letting its young people down, they must not moth ball Staylittle Outdoor Centre but work to keep it open for the future of all in Powys.”
Cllr Gareth Morgan jointly presented the petition with Ms Fitzpatrick-Reeves, while Cllr David Selby presented a second petition with 55 signatures that had been collected by the Powys Liberal Democrat Group.
Cllr Morgan, who was involved in the opening of the purpose-built centre in 1993, said he hoped Cllr Harris would take note of the comments within the petition.
“They expressed views and concerns based on their experiences there,” he said.
“It’s near to my heart, I was the services chair who presided over its opening. When it was first opened it ran at a surplus, it was well managed.
“I’m grateful to Maggie who has done a wonderful job collecting these signatures.”
If the closure goes ahead as planned at the end of the current financial year, it will save the council £130,000 from its leisure services budget.
Cllr Rosemarie Harris thanked them for the petition, and replied: “The discussion is ongoing, it’s of interest to all the cabinet members.
“I take the future of any service seriously, but we are in a difficult financial position.”
See full story in the County Times