Rossendale Free Press

Council must pool resources to help Valley folk get fitter


ACCORDING to a recent Rossendale Council report, Rossendale has some of the least active people in the county.

The authority’s data states that people in Rossendale are least likely, of all Lancastria­ns, to do at least 30 minutes exercise a week.

Similarly, data also suggests we have the third highest rate of obesity in Lancashire. Neither are particular­ly encouragin­g things to hear.

The figures emerged during a discussion about Rossendale’s Health and Wellbeing Plan, which aims to make the borough a healthier place to live.

Physical activity, weight, diets, places to exercise, mental health and loneliness are among the area’s key priorities.

According to Adam Allen, the borough’s Director of Community: “We have got some fantastic outdoor venues and spaces but our leisure centres are quite old, dating from around 1972.

“The three main ones are perhaps not really fit for purpose for the future. So facilities are among our priorities too.

“In future, there will be swimming, gyms and exercise spaces.

“But GPs like smaller spaces too, like the ABD community centre in Bacup.

“The focus is about getting everybody active and using venues where they feel comfortabl­e.”

Perhaps now is the time for the council to ask whether it has its leisure and sporting priorities in the right order, especially as other council reports at the moment talk about the significan­t financial challenges Rossendale’s Leisure Trust finds itself under following the pandemic.

The council has spent a lot of money over the years – either its own, or money it has attracted to the borough – supporting Ski Rossendale, developing mountain bike facilities near Bacup and building Grip and Go, the climbing centre, in part of Haslingden Leisure

Centre – or Adrenaline as it is now called.

All fine projects in their own right, but if the challenge is to get more people doing just a little exercise, then shouldn’t the focus be on activities more people are likely to be able to do on a regular basis?

Regular readers will know where this argument is going.

We shouldn’t be surprised that Rossendale is getting fatter when the council closed Haslingden swimming pool.

Like the Empty Homes Scandal, which continues to cost the taxpayer money, it’s an issue the Labour-led administra­tion seems determined to avoid talking about if it possibly can.

But closing an easy-toaccess facility which allowed people to do a relatively low-intensity exercise at a time of their choosing will only ever result in more people becoming inactive.

Almost a decade on from the Labour administra­tion’s decision to divert the government loans it had secured to fund a new swimming pool, to instead buy Rawtenstal­l’s crumbling Valley Centre, the swimming pool in Haslingden lies abandoned, becoming more derelict as each week goes by.

People who want to enjoy a swim now have two bus journeys to get to a baths.

Local children are still waiting many months to get on swimming lessons, or have to travel out of the area, to Hyndburn, Blackburn – or, if they are lucky, just over the border to Ramsbottom.

Rossendale Council is now talking about finding investment to fund a new bike trailhead in the borough.

Great for tourism, not so good if you just want to get a little bit fitter on a weekly basis.

That’s the challenge the council needs to embrace:

How does it provide the facilities people will use every week?

 ?? ?? ●Scribbler says the closure of Haslingden swimming baths could be a major factor in Rossendale people getting fatter
●Scribbler says the closure of Haslingden swimming baths could be a major factor in Rossendale people getting fatter

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