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Brownhills School pitches and pool axed to public

Walsall | News | Published:

A school has announced plans to close its swimming pool, theatre and football pitches to the community at the end of March, leaving groups and organisations weeks to find a new venue.

Brownhills School has provided community provision for more than 30 years but bosses say it is no longer sustainable or viable as it is not making enough income to cover outgoings.

But groups which use the venue and serve hundreds of people a week said it came as an 'absolute shock' when they were told the news.

Headteacher Helen Keenan said out of the 700 pupils at the school, just eight of them used the facilities out of hours.

She said that community use had been under review each year.

Ms Keenan said: "Every year it's getting tighter and tighter.

"It's not sustainable or viable. The use locally is quite low.

"It is illegal for a school to use its school budget to subsidise community activities. The community has to pay for itself."

She said the majority of user groups were commercial operations which profit from the use of the site.

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"Out of the 700 children in the school, only eight use it out of hours," she added.

She said groups would be able to use the site until the end of March.

But Aqualympic Swim Schools runs swimming sessions for up to 250 children twice a week from the pool and bosses have been left scrambling around to find a new venue.

Stuart Wildman, managing director of the school, which formed in 1994 and teaches youngsters and teenagers, said: "We were told about it in January and they have given us until March 31. It was an absolute complete shock. I've been at that school since 1996.

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"It's one of my longest serving swim schools. It's close to my heart.

"We get 200 to 250 swimmers there across two days a week and we've never had a dip in numbers.

"There are also other swimming schools and clubs that operate from that centre.

"I'm now trying to sort out another venue."

Aqualympic Swim Schools currently uses the pool on Friday evenings and Saturday mornings.

He has also written to Aldridge-Brownhills MP, Sir Richard Shepherd, and Prime Minister David Cameron about the move.

But the Aldridge-Brownhills MP said he backed the decision of the school governors and praised the results the school had managed to achieve.

The school was named seventh top performer in the borough for GCSEs last month, as 68 per cent of 117 pupils got five grades at C or higher, including English and maths.

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