We parted knowing also that Energie Fitness in the privately owned Piper Building, at the opposite end of Peterborough Road, would be the new destination for gym users. Although there was a no-contract arrangement, there was little prospect for Lifestyle Card holders or continued cheap pay-as-you go rates. It was also pointed out that Energie Fitness was the third company to try its luck in the Piper Building and there was no guarantee that the next company to take over gym would continue with the same terms and conditions.
The Council said the Wharf Rooms, near to Imperial Road roundabout, could be a possible alternative site. We visited this on another occasion and found it to have no natural light, having been built more as an occasional, informal conference room. In any case, the Wharf Rooms is isolated from other community activity. Situated as it is, on a particularly busy road and with no parking, would make the location especially unsuitable for the elderly, infirm or the very young.
The Action Group reiterated that it is wholly unconvinced by the Council's argument that the needs of Sands End residents could be met by dispersing facilities across the ward. The loss of the Centre would mean the end of a friendly neighbourhood resource that has a long tradition of looking after the needs of the community and ensuring social cohesion. We have no doubt whatsoever that the alternatives the Council is offering would cause damage to community life. This is not the right solution; and neither does it make long-term financial sense. Instead we feel that the Council should delay making a decision to sell the Centre and look more closely at the most sensible option: to keep the building and work with the community to find ways to make it financially viable.
Finally, we indicated that there was always the possibility of finding a compromise solution if a property developer would offer to buy the building, whilst leaving the ground floor for community use.