Olympic legacy? Not at the Waddon Leisure Centre, opened yesterday by Croydon Council inviting a Paralympic champion from… Sutton.
The public facility – built at a cost of £15million, or one-tenth of the price we are paying for the Council HQ being finished just up the road – will surely soon establish itself as one of the borough’s ugliest buildings.
Was the architect “tired and emotional”, and perhaps lying on their side when they determined the lettering down the Five Ways building’s front wall?
One ward councillor, presumably desperate for votes to keep her cosy five-figure sinecure after the local elections next year, has posted a video of residents’ reactions to the shiny facilities on her platitudinous website. It’s not known whether the councillor will herself trek all the way from her Addiscombe home to mix with the ordinary people of Waddon at the leisure centre now it is open.
“It’s lovely and clean,” one elderly local says over the pulsing back-beat music in the video, apparently admiring the basketball courts. It might be a bit of a let-down if the place was dirty and dog-eared even before its official opening. Her husband got interviewed as well for the website. He thought it was lovely, too.
Neither of them, nor anyone else in the video, was asked whether they intended to fork out £11 per week to use the “lovely” facilities that their Council Tax had paid to build. Nor was it stated that a private gym and pool just down the road is offering cheaper memberships.
Any locals wanting to use Waddon Leisure Centre will have to fork out £44 per month to use the gym, 25-metre pool or sports hall.
That means any budding sports stars, or even the average resident looking to follow a healthy fitness regime, has to find more than a fiver a time if they use Waddon on average twice a week. That’s a total of nearly £600 per year – on top of the Council Tax that may locals will already have paid, and which provides the funding for the facility.
The public-funded public facility is not even the cheapest sports centre in the area: less than half a mile away up Stafford Road at the Virgin-owned private “Surrey Health and Racquet Club”, what used to be called Esporta, teenagers can get monthly membership for just £35.
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