What Outer West Leisure Centre could look like (Image: Newcastle City Council)
A Newcastle MP has issued a rallying call to the government demanding they "put warm words into action" and support the campaign to install a state-of-the-art leisure centre in Newcastle.
Newcastle North MP Catherine McKinnell has been outspoken with her support for the project and recently visited the Newcastle Swim Team at Gosforth Pool.
During the visit, Ms McKinnell watched the Newcastle Swim Team train and met with members of the Newcastle Swim Team Committee and representatives from Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), who manage leisure facilities in Newcastle.
The MP has supported Newcastle City Council’s Levelling Up Fund bid to develop a £22mllion state of the art, net-zero carbon Outer West Leisure Centre.
The impressive facility would include a swimming pool, sports hall and gym, as well as a café, library and community space.
Now Ms McKinnell has demanded the government follow through on Levelling Up promises to back the project.
She said: “Enabling residents in the Outer West of Newcastle to have access to a state of the art, net-zero carbon leisure facility would be transformational for the whole area and would also support the brilliant Newcastle Swim Team.
“If the Government want to put their warm words on levelling up into action, they could do no better than get behind our bid and ensure the necessary funding for swimming and Leisure on the Outer West."
Swim England's 2021 report found that since the pandemic 206 pools have closed either permanently or temporarily, including 68 public pools.
The group also projected that, on current trends, the number of available pools could decrease by 40% by the end of the decade.
After spending time with the Newcastle Swim Team, Ms McKinnell said: "This summer saw so much great success for Team GB in the pool at the Olympics and Paralympics, and I am sure many have been inspired to take up swimming – our next generation of swimmers could be right here training with Newcastle Swim Team.
“Swimming helps to improve physical and mental fitness and analysis from Swim England shows that weekly swimming saves the NHS and social care more than £350million a year.
"Investing in grassroots and community sport generates £4 for every £1 in investment for our economy and society.
“Yet we know that over 200 swimming pools have closed during the pandemic, and others are under threat, especially with increasing energy prices.
"I am hugely concerned that areas with existing health inequalities and in the most disadvantaged areas are disproportionately losing access to their swimming, fitness and leisure facilities”.
Liz Idowu, Chair of the Newcastle Swim Team added: “Newcastle Swim Team are so grateful for the continuing support of Catherine McKinnell in her tireless campaign for a new pool in Newcastle, as well as improvement to existing stock.
“Our swimming success as a country can only continue if we have the facilities around the country to support grassroots swimming.
“As a Club, we recognise the incredible long term outcomes that swimming offers to all our swimmers, this cannot be sustained without improvement to stock in the City of Newcastle.”