RiversMeet project in Gillingham

[from This Is Dorset]

Accusations of favouritism towards Dorchester have been aimed at Dorset County Council over its distribution of money for leisure services. The county council is to pump £1.575m into an impressive new leisure centre complex to be built in Dorchester at the Thomas Hardye School.

But when the team behind the project to refurbish Gillingham Leisure Centre asked for a contribution, the county council said there was not enough money to help with a revamp for the centre, which has been renamed the RiversMeet Centre.

This has left the Gillingham team aggrieved and town councillor Ian Stewart said: "We are all feeling a little bit let down by the county council. Whenever we have asked them for assistance they have been less than helpful. The county council has been asked to help three times since the pool was originally built in the 1950s and on three occasions no help has been forthcoming. We all pay our rates and yet we are left to feel like the poor relations up here in Gillingham because we are so far away from the centre of the county. We are pleased for the people of Dorchester, but we do feel rather put out by this latest development."

The ambitious £8m project in Dorchester is to be funded in part by a £4.725m grant from West Dorset District Council, £700,000 from the Duchy of Cornwall, plus the £1.575 from the county council and a further £300,000 from Thomas Hardye School.

A spokesman for West Dorset District Council said facilities at the Dorchester centre included a new 25-metre swimming pool with a 150-seat public viewing gallery, a dance studio, new changing rooms and a 60 station fitness suite with views over Maiden Castle.

The RiversMeet project at Hardings Lane, Gillingham also hopes to deliver high quality facilities. It has had £4m from North Dorset District Council and has topped up funding through community fundraising initiatives and by asking for contributions from surrounding parishes.

A spokesman for Dorset County Council rejected the charge of favouritism, pointing out no formal request for funding towards the Gillingham project had been received. Also the Dorchester centre will be jointly used by Thomas Hardye School, which makes it eligible for county council support, while the centre in Gillingham has no such joint use.


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23:17:33 06.12.2009
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