‘We want our freedom’

Prescot resident Ian Smith is leading a campaign against Knowlsey Councils proposed downgrading of Prescot Leisure Centre
Prescot resident Ian Smith is leading a campaign against Knowlsey Councils proposed downgrading of Prescot Leisure Centre

A CAMPAIGN to remove Prescot from Knowsley Council control has been launched.

Town council boss Ian Smith believes there is a ground swell of public support for such a move following the furore over Knowsley Council’s decision - approved at cabinet last week - to downscale Prescot Leisure Centre.

The plans will see a large chunk of the Warrington Road centre’s shut, leaving just outdoor football pitches, indoor fitness suite and changing rooms.

Coun Smith, who is facing disciplinary proceedings over a row with council officials, said: “I will not rest until Knowsley Council has paid the price for what they have done. It’s tantamount to an act of aggression from one authority to another.”

Council bosses say the £1.4m scheme will save spending on upgrades to the current, aging site.

But opponents say the centre will also be stripped of its ability to provide a home for countless community-based projects, including the town council.

Coun Smith said: “I’m horrified by what they’ve done; it is totally unnecessary and will have an incredibly negative affect on Prescot.

“It puts the town council back 20 or 30 years. It’s just a case of David versus Goliath, and we had no chance of winning.”

Coun Smith is currently forming an action committee to spearhead the move towards Prescot’s independence.

A similar move faltered in the early 1990s, but Coun Smith is convinced this latest campaign will gardener sufficient backing.

The Boundary Commission is currently undertaking a public review of England’s borough and county boundaries.

And Coun Smith (pictured, right) believes he will be able demonstrates the depth of local feeling and convince the commission to transfer Prescot from Knowsley to another local authority.

“People in Prescot have never considered themselves to be part of Knowsley,” he said.

“If one part of Knowsley goes other will follow. I know people in Kirkby who are very disgruntled about the way they are being treated by the council. It could be the end of Knowsley.”

A spokeswoman for Knowsley Council declined to comment.

nWhat do you think? Should Prescot move out of Knowsley Council authority control or should the town say put? Email sthelens.reporter@lep.co.uk or write to Letters, Prescot Reporter. Bank House, Claughton Street, St Helens, WA10 1RL.