Regular users of The Edge Leisure Centre in Haslemere are to be made homeless this Saturday – with no clear prospect of the doors being reopened in the near future.
Surrey County Council was first informed of Waverley Borough Council’s decision to surrender its lease on the centre in April 2022.
But it has been unable to find a new operator before Waverley hands back the keys on July 1.
The Herald understands the Weydon Multi-Academy Trust, which runs neighbouring Woolmer Hill School, is interested in taking on the centre – but not until the new school year begins in September.
Groups including The Edge Badminton Club and Swallows Trampoline Club contacted the Herald this week, complaining at being left in the dark over the centre’s future.
These groups count hundreds of members, and many children, in their ranks with little prospect of finding alternative venues until The Edge is reopened.
Sport Haslemere has been lobbying behind the scenes to keep The Edge open, but has this week admitted defeat.
“Despite all of the efforts of Sport Haslemere to keep the facilities open we have been unable to achieve this goal,” said Sport Haslemere chairman Chris Grimes.
“This is despite assurances from Waverley Borough Council’s leader who met with us in April and said The Edge would not close for community use. We feel let down by both Waverley and Surrey councils who do not appear to understand the disservice they are doing to the health of the population and the damage to some of our sporting stars of the future.
“Sport Haslemere will continue to lobby both Waverley and Surrey councils, our local councillors and our MP and will present our petition to Protect The Edge which currently has more than 2,000 signatories.
“The Edge was built by public subscription for the benefit of the community of Haslemere and it is essential that it continues for this purpose, not just for use by Woolmer Hill School. The prime movers in bringing The Edge to fruition are no longer with us but both Nick Chilton and Eric Thomson would be mortified if they knew what was happening to their prized achievement.”
Surrey County Council leader Tim Oliver has apologised for the “disruption” at The Edge and expressed hope the centre will reopen in “early September” - see below for his full statement.
The county council is sorry for the disruption to users of The Edge leisure centre in Haslemere, which will be closing its doors to public use tomorrow.
Following Waverley Borough Council’s decision to terminate its lease on The Edge, the county council has been in discussions with Waverley and Weydon Multi Academy Trust to explore how to take this issue forward.
Our priority is to ensure that Woolmer Hill School maintains uninterrupted access to The Edge’s facilities, but we remain committed to ensuring continued community use of this facility.
Leisure centres are the responsibility of district and borough councils. Therefore Surrey County Council does not have any partners or systems that would enable us to continue the operation of The Edge.
That’s why we’ve had to advise users of The Edge to seek alternative locations – such as Haslemere Leisure Centre.
We are, however, working with Waverley on options that may enable community use again from early September.