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Customers hit out at bar closure plan

PUBLISHED: 19:47 23 July 2008 | UPDATED: 10:34 12 July 2010

customers hit out this week at plans to close a popular bar.

The bar at Long Stratton Leisure Centre is used by local people and sports clubs but is poised to close at the end of the month under a major revamp of the complex.

customers hit out this week at plans to close a popular bar.

The bar at Long Stratton Leisure Centre is used by local people and sports clubs but is poised to close at the end of the month under a major revamp of the complex.

South Norfolk Council is turning the bar into an exercise studio as part of a much wider £385,000 programme of improvements to its leisure centres.

Michelle Monck, its cabinet member for tourism, heritage, enterprise and culture, said the closure decision was taken to maximise space for fitness facilities. But one fed-up customer, who did not wish to be named, has criticised the council for publicising the plight of pubs while not supporting the licensed trade at the leisure centre.

She said patrons were told initially that the bar would have to go because alcohol and fitness did not go hand in hand - but were later told it was closing because it was losing money.

The customer added: “A petition has been handed to the council signed by about 200 people, but they have just taken no notice of us. I am not saying it is making a fortune, but after I read the article about keeping village pubs open it seemed very hypocritical. People are very upset about it.”

Mrs Monck insisted the bar was closing because of the refurbishment.

She said: “We are a small centre and we need to maximise a limited space. The reason we have a leisure centre is to get people fit and healthy, and we need to make every square foot of floorspace work as hard as we can to achieve that. In reality, the bar doesn't achieve that for me.

“It is nothing to do with wanting people to stop socialising or having fun. We have got two pubs 10 minutes walk away which are crying out for business. I have spoken to the landlords and they have said they would welcome extra business there.

“We shouldn't be competing with pubs: we should be getting people fit and healthy.”

Work at the centre begins in August with a makeover of the foyer, adding soft seating and refreshments.

Mrs Monck said: “Long Stratton Leisure Centre has never had an overhaul like this since it was first built. This revamp will see increased activities and fitness machines for local people to use.” She added that three members of staff involved in running the bar had been redeployed to other centres.

Designs for the first stages of improvements are on display at the Long Stratton centre.


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