THE Mayor of Melksham has strongly criticised Wiltshire Council for its decision to close the Christie Miller sports centre before new facilities are built.

The council announced last week the centre will close its doors on October 19, following a recent inspection which found it was too unsafe for customers and staff to use.

The centre’s closure has been on the cards since the council decided to replace the facilities with a new £23 community campus in Melksham town centre.

The town’s mayor, Cllr Adrienne Westbrook, condemned the decision to close the centre before new facilities are opened in 2021 to replace it.

She said: “If Wiltshire Council has not mis-managed the early part of the campus programme the new facilities would have been built before Christie Miller was closed. The extreme overspend on the football and rugby ground is what has caused this problem.”

Keith Love-Evans, area manager for Places for People, which operates the centre on Wiltshire Council’s behalf, said: “It was hoped that Christie Miller sports centre would remain operational until the new campus opens in 2021, but sadly, this option is no longer viable.

“Although the centre clearly needs investment, it’s an important part of the local health and wellbeing landscape and it will be missed by many members who use it regularly for classes, workouts and other sports.

“Places for People is totally committed to ensuring our customers continue to have the opportunity to exercise and work out locally and remind customers that their premium membership entitles them to use facilities across all Places leisure sites within Wiltshire, along with sites operated by the council.

“We’ll be communicating directly with customers and colleagues regarding the closure.”

For many customers their nearest centre is now likely to be Melksham Blue Pool. Facilities are also available at the Olympiad Leisure Centre in Chippenham; Castle Place Leisure Centre in Trowbridge; Trowbridge Sports Centre; Bradford on Avon Swimming Pool; Leighton Recreation Centre in Westbury; Westbury Swimming Pool; Warminster Sports Centre; The Activity Zone in Malmesbury, and at Lime Kiln Leisure Centre in Royal Wootton Bassett.

Meanwhile, Wiltshire Council has submitted plans to upgrade the tennis courts next to the recently-refurbished Avon Bowls Club.

The existing courts next to the Grade II-listed Melksham House are in poor condition and past their usable lifespan.

The new courts will have hard surfacing, LED floodlighting and fencing. Locals have until Friday, September 28 to comment on the plans. The council is expected to make a decision by October 18.