Protesters plan march to save leisure centre

Protesters are planning to march on Belfast Council in a new bid to save one of the city’s oldest leisure centres from closure, it emerged today.

Protesters are planning to march on Belfast Council in a new bid to save one of the city’s oldest leisure centres from closure, it emerged today.

Swimming clubs will also take to the River Lagan to highlight how shutting down the Maysfield complex will leave them homeless.

The leisure centre in south east Belfast is due to close by April next year after city councillors voted to sell the site.

But Maysfield Action Committee, a new pressure group made up of all those who use the centre, is due to hold a demonstration outside City Hall on Tuesday night.

Sinn Féin councillor Joe O’Donnell, whose party opposed the closure, said he would be backing the campaign.

He said: “This decision should be delayed until at least next October so an equality impact assessment can be carried out and the findings presented to council.

“We believe this would show Maysfield should not be closed.”

Mr O’Donnell said the leisure centre was the only truly cross-community facility of its kind in Belfast.

Residents of the nationalist Short Strand, which he represents, would be unable to use any other services in the staunchly loyalist east Belfast, he insisted.

Mr O’Donnell added: “All these clubs and associations have come together to show how much they need Maysfield.

“Setanta swimming club from west Belfast and Templemore from the east are even going to get into the Lagan as an example of what closure could do to them.

“Maysfield is being sold off because it’s on a prime site, but the council haven’t even identified where they could build a replacement.

“It’s unlikely a new leisure centre will be built for at least five years and no one has considered all the facts.”

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