Statement on Cllr Doug Pullen’s response to our open letter.

See Cllr Pullen’s response here.

We are pleased to have received a clear statement from the Leader of Lichfield District Council that they are fully committed to the refurbishment of Friary Grange Leisure Centre and the construction of a new replacement leisure centre in Lichfield.

However, the long delay in re-opening Friary Grange is extremely disappointing for our community.

Our open letter raised several important points and, whilst Cllr Pullen has addressed some of them, there has been no consideration given to our request that Lichfield District Council and Freedom Leisure will work with the clubs, Friends of Friary Grange, staff and users to safely reopen the centre in line with the timetable for the Burntwood Leisure Centre reopening.

Furthermore, the initial promise of an “October opening” is now quoted as “the end of October”.

In the meantime, Friary Grange members are unable to book classes at Burntwood due to a lack of capacity, local clubs are having to travel around the county to resume training, and disadvantaged groups unable to travel to Burntwood have been clearly marginalised by the decision to keep Friary Grange closed.

We will continue to push Cllr Pullen, the responsible cabinet member and officers to work with Freedom Leisure, and to communicate with our group to work towards a gradual reopening of Friary Grange by mid-September at the latest.


Open letter to council leader, Doug Pullen

UPDATE: We’ve received a response to our letter.

Dear Councillor Doug Pullen

Delayed re-opening of Friary Grange Leisure Centre

It was extremely disheartening to see the Leisure, Parks & Waste Management (Overview and Scrutiny) Committee confirm the recommendation to delay the opening of Friary Grange Leisure Centre until October at the earliest, with the final decision appearing to rest on the performance of Burntwood Leisure Centre.

The main grounds for this decision appear to be:

  • Cost savings of just £47,000 compared with a July opening date
  • Burntwood Leisure Centre would be sufficient to meet demand
  • The rate of returning patrons is likely to be lower at Friary Grange as more users are ‘older people’
  • Friary Grange is smaller and social distancing restrictions will mean it has limited capacity
  • Verbal concerns over the safety of residents in using the Leisure Centres

We dispute these grounds and believe the following factors must also be considered:

  • The cost savings from a delayed opening are minimal, and there has been no consideration of ways to mitigate these costs
  • As demonstrated during last year’s campaign to Save Friary Grange, Friary Grange users will not or cannot travel to Burntwood Leisure centre and the facilities for disabled users are better at Friary Grange
  • The ‘older people’ who are members of Friary Grange are not the only users of the centre. There is no evidence in the report that any Friary Grange users have been asked if they would be returning and we are surprised that this isn’t supported by an Equality Impact Assessment
  • It is accepted that Friary Grange is a smaller facility but social distancing will be possible and there is the opportunity to use the space more imaginatively
  • The verbal concerns over the safety of residents would be better addressed by opening both centres and making full use of the available space. In addition, there was verbal assurance given at the meeting that Lichfield District Council has full confidence that Freedom Leisure can operate leisure centres in accordance with new safety regulations
  • The guidance by Sport England on running leisure centres is very precise on minimising health risks and has been accepted by HM Government to allow reopening of centres.

The report indicates support would be given to Friary Grange users during the continued closure but gives no indication of what this support would be:

  • There is no recognition of the increased costs in time and money Lichfield residents would have to bear to visit Burntwood.
  • There is no assessment of the environmental impact of this increased travel against the recently declared Climate Emergency.
  • There is no consideration of the actual practicalities of visiting Burntwood by public transport against HM Government’s advice which still suggests public transport should be avoided given the difficulties of social distancing.

The proposed extended closure flies against the commitment and understanding of the need to retain leisure facilities in Lichfield as agreed by Lichfield District Council last year.

We are asking for a public and firm commitment for the following:

  • Reassurance that full closure is not back on the table, and that Friary Grange Leisure Centre will reopen
  • Lichfield District Council and Freedom Leisure will work with the clubs, Friends of Friary Grange, staff and users to safely reopen the centre in line with the timetable for Burntwood reopening, with recognition that this may necessitate a phased reopening with the pool reopening first whilst firm plans are made for the rest of the centre.
  • A restated commitment to undertaking the improvement works at Friary Grange
  • A restated commitment to the provision of a new leisure centre in Lichfield

Lichfield District Council made a decision last year to refurbish Friary Grange Leisure Centre and to build a replacement centre within a 5 year period. Residents are trusting their council, and you as Leader of that council, to deliver that commitment. We look forward to working with you to make that happen.

Yours sincerely,

Friends of Friary Grange Leisure Centre and 260 others including Richard Hill, Matthew Wilson, Joanne Grange, Rachel keogh, David West-Mullen, John Pearce, Leela Cubillo, Richard Brooks, Simon Partridge, Sheila Jones, Jane Williams, Nicola Templeton, Hannah Gallimore, Derek Upton, Sarah Whitehead, andrew Rushton, David Badcock, Andy Templeton, Dave Robertson, Darryl Godden, Gavin McAndrew, Margaret Barratt, Gary Vegas, Sarah Dale, Ann Schwarzenbach, Barbara Anne Marshall, Anne Hill, Sally Greene, Carol Ingham, Kim Rochelle, Laura Hancox, Kathleen Grange, Richard Henshaw, Peter Hancox, Dave Cannell, Helen floyd, Daniel Floyd, Michael Hartley, Ann Hughes, Malcolm Flanagan, Alan Weaver, Ritesh Narshi, Linda Young, Fiona Conway, Fardon Mark, Linda Farnsworth, Ann Brooks, Mr John McGoldrick, phil Sutcliffe, Laura murphy, Scott russell, Sally Keen, Linda Mrs Flanagan, Eileen Smith, Colin Ball, Claire Craddock, Craig Smith, Lisa Dillon, Trudy Asson, brian pretty, Polmear, R cherrington, Melanie Pinson, Lindsey Reeve, Samantha Field, Charlotte Morley, Kathleen Evans, Hilary Richardson, Roger Hornsby, Mike collins, James Blackman, Charlotte Faulkner, Benjamin Watkins, Jill Tracey, Ruth Needham, Tim Keeling, Margaret Inglis, Teresa McCarthy, Clare Wright, Anna Delves, Sharon Coleman, Fiona Dearn, Celeste Morrissey, Lisa miller, Javier Jimenez, Bev Bishop, Pete Hoare, Robert lewis, Pete Hoare, Martin McQuaide, James Millington, Angelique Wood, Marilyn Masters, Paul Ray, Penny lee, Alan Deane, Christine McDermott, Dave Denison, Matthew Field, Cath Pendlebury, Corinne wallader, Robyan, Allison Leonard, Ken Knowles, Emma Hawes, Rosalind Chapman, Caroline Fellows, Stephanie Smith, Rosemary Smith, Alison Edwards, Fiona Campbell, Amy Gathergood, Richard Gathergood, Don Palmer, Helen Dickinson, Amy Mulholland, Ant Doody, Sue Carrington-Porter, Victoria Eadie, Sarah Young, Amanda Wayman-Chiles, Lynne Hinsley, Alistair Manson, Ben Hurst, Sara turrell, Felicity Thomas, Catherine Hancox, Clare, M hartley, Hazel Toovey, Scott Hale, Katherine Nokes, David Smyth, Paul Bradley, Osahon Orchard, Geoffrey Haigh, Hayley Bourne, Clare Roberts, Annabel, Pam Beale, Andrew McCurdy, Ken Smith, Olga Jean Thomas, Liz Bowers, Graham Jarman, Jayna Narshi, Heather Harry, Lisa Tinwell, John Davey, Jayne Phelps, Rachel Bentley, Claire Pinder-Smith, Adele Beattie, Julia Copeman, Paul Flanagan, Emily Bacon, Tracey Wiliams, Janet Waterfield, Jamie Checkland, Sally-Ann Hurst, Sian Thompson, Ann Morrison, Sarah Clark, James Aston, Graham Burrows, Colin Bridle, Peter Hancox, Hugh Ashton, Arthur, Colin Beresford, Jennie Holt, Ron Laishley, Stephanie Skelton, David Sanderson, Sophia Nakhooda, Christine Cheadle, Nichola Allsobrook, Richard Allen, John Coombes, Cathy Chilinski, Jenny Trivett, Steven Gould, Craig Watson, Rebecca Stevens, Margarite Burnell, Juliet Jackson, Kate Crossfield, Katy Harrison, Sally ilott, Emma Parks, Leela Cubillo, Penny Norton, Chris Norton, Emma perks, Sarah Clayton, Heidi Neenan, Julie Wilson and Fiona Stephenson.

We’ve closed the open letter now. See Cllr Doug Pullen’s response here.

Statement on the re-opening of Friary Grange Leisure Centre

The Friends of Friary Grange group have issued a statement in response to news that the Friary Grange Leisure Centre will not reopen to the public until later this year. The group was formed in 2019 after 11,000 Lichfield residents signed a petition to keep the leisure centre open, following notice from Lichfield District Council that it was to close.

The statement reads:

“Whilst we understand the challenges Lichfield District Council are facing, it is disappointing for the people of Lichfield to hear that Friary Grange Leisure Centre will not open until later in the year. We were also concerned to read Cllr Rob Strachan’s recent comments which appear to cast some doubt on the future funding of Lichfield District Council’s leisure centres.

The need for affordable local facilities that our community can use to help maintain both their physical fitness and mental health has never been greater, particularly as we begin to emerge from lockdown.

We appreciate that the council faces unprecedented financial demands as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and we would certainly endorse Cllr Doug Pullen’s call for greater support from central government, but we would also urge Lichfield District Council to keep in mind their promise, made in front of a full-house at the Garrick Theatre last October, to not only keep Friary Grange open but also fund a long-term replacement facility in the city. Additionally, we look forward to hearing news about the tender process for contracted work in the near future, and will be keenly watching Thursday’s meeting of the Leisure Overview & Scrutiny Meeting.

We feel sure that a good many of the 11,000 supporters who signed our petition will be watching future developments with great interest. We certainly will be.”

Friends of Friary Grange Leisure Centre Formed

On Friday 8th November, 2019 a number of those people involved in the campaign to Save Friary Grange came together and formed the Friends of Friary Grange Leisure Centre (FoFGLC).

FoFGLC is an unincorporated association with a constitution which you can view here.

At our first meeting we committed to transparency and as such you can view the minutes from our inaugural meeting here.

We also agreed to have our first AGM on Tuesday 7th January at 7pm. Venue TBC.

If you would like to attend future meetings, or volunteer, please get in touch with our secretary, Philip John.

Upcoming Events

Join us, and help us gain more signatures for the petition at these forthcoming events:

14 August, Lichfield Grub Club

24-26 August, Lichfield Food Festival

Get in touch if you can help us, even just for one hour, it’ll make a huge difference.

7 October – as special date for the diary. This will be the public meeting to debate the closure of Friary Grange Leisure Centre. We need everyone concerned about the possible closure to turn up and make some noise. More details to follow.

CANCELLED Lichfield Grub Club – Wednesday 31st July

UPDATE: Due to the horrid downpour, Grub Club is cancelled so rather than making wet petitions we’ll be staying away too. Look out for us at Lichfield Food festival instead!

On Wednesday 31st July our band of trusty volunteers will be at the Lichfield Grub Club (Lichfield Cathedral) from 6.30pm to gain further signatures and create awareness of the proposed closure of Friary Grange Leisure Centre. It’s always a great night so come along, support local traders, and do say hello. 

If anyone can lend a hand, or has any ideas about promoting the campaign contact us through the website or come and talk to us at the Grub Club. You won’t be able to miss us!