Clo­sure agreed

Middlesbrough Herald & Post - - FRONT PAGE -

THE clo­sure of the South­lands Cen­tre, which will see sev­eral busi­nesses forced to move, has been con­firmed.

Mid­dles­brough Coun­cil has agreed to close the site de­spite ob­jec­tions by busi­ness own­ers af­ter talks with a po­ten­tial buyer failed.

Fur­ther work will be car­ried out to find a new use for the Ormesby Road fa­cil­ity with a fur­ther re­port due in Septem­ber.

The devel­op­ment comes af­ter the sports cen­tre was closed last year to save Mid­dles­brough Coun­cil cash.

The coun­cil said last week it will con­tinue to work with ten­ants and lo­cal community groups to se­cure al­ter­na­tive ar­range­ments.

Ap­proval for the pro­posed clo­sure was given at a Mid­dles­brough Coun­cil meet­ing last week.

A Mid­dles­brough Coun­cil spokesman said said the move fol­lowed a “con­certed ef­fort to find some­one to run the cen­tre, re­tain­ing its busi­ness and community uses.”

They added that “the cen­tre cur­rently costs lo­cal tax­pay­ers up to £200,000 every year in staffing and main­te­nance, while a re­cent in­de­pen­dent re­port pointed to the need for es­sen­tial works to­talling £600,000. A fur­ther £1.3m worth of de­sir­able works is re­quired to sus­tain the build­ing in the long term.”

Many of the cen­tre’s busi­ness own­ers spoke of their devastation af­ter they re­ceived a let­ter from Mid­dles­brough Coun­cil in­form­ing them of in­ten­tions to “wind down” the venue.

Trader David Brown said: “I’m in­fu­ri­ated - we have peo­ple who have been here 20 or 30 years.”

“But it isn’t just about us - the town, and the state it is in, needs an en­ter­prise cen­tre. There isn’t a lot of money around, but this gave peo­ple a chance to start their own busi­ness so what mes­sage does shut­ting it send?”

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