New leisure centre to be built in Dudley as part of £22 million investment - but dozens of jobs will go
A new leisure centre will be built in the heart of Dudley and centres in Stourbridge and Halesowen revamped as part of a £22 million investment announced by council bosses.
Dudley's current leisure centre in Wellington Road will be knocked down and the site sold off to allow for the building of a new facility on Flood Street car park 'fit for the 21st Century'.
Uncertainty over the futures of leisure centres in Stourbridge and Halesowen has now vanished as the Conservative group that controls the council outlined a commitment to health facilities in its first draft budget since taking control of the authority in May.
Council tax will rise by at least three per cent from April, while 35 jobs will be cut across the authority, it was announced.
Further cuts will have to be made as the council needs to save another £5.6 million by 2021, council leader Patrick Harley admitted.
But he insisted it was the most positive budget set out by Dudley Council in years.
Leisure centres had been on course to be cut in Dudley, as proposals were revealed by the previous Labour administration last year to axe one of either Stourbridge or Halesowen's centre. But the plan sparked uproar and was later scrapped.
Councillor Harley said: "It will end this saga once and for all. The people of Dudley, Stourbridge and Halesowen deserve to be put out of their misery on leisure centres.
"We have made a decision to build a completely new leisure centre to serve Dudley North and Dudley South, as it will be near the Dudley southern bypass, and carry out a backlog of repairs at Stourbridge and Halesowen."
Regeneration boss Ian Kettle said: "Over the last 12 months there has been a lot of discussion around the future of our leisure centres and it's clear from what people have said there remains a huge demand for three leisure centres in the borough."
Councillor Harley said it was expected the new centre would be built by 2021 and the current Dudley Leisure Centre would not close until the new one is ready. Repairs at Stourbridge and Halesowen could start within the next 12 months.
Council bosses revealed their plan to raise council tax by three per cent but said a consultation would be launched asking residents if they were prepared to agree to a four or five per cent rise. Council tax went up by four per cent this year.
Bereavement charges will also rise from next year, it was announced.