Leighton-Linslade Town Councillors fight for the future of Tiddenfoot Leisure Centre

Leighton-Linslade Town Councillors are fighting to secure the future of Tiddenfoot Leisure Centre, emphasising that it must remain as a sports or community hub and not be sold to developers.

By Jo Robinson
Monday, 27th June 2022, 4:39 pm
Updated Tuesday, 28th June 2022, 12:49 pm

A consultation is currently underway about Central Bedfordshire Council's (CBC's) proposals for a £25m leisure centre near the Clipstone Park estate, which would likely see Tiddenfoot close once the new site was completed.

However, Leighton-Linslade Town Councillor Clive Palmer, of Southcott ward, believes that Tiddenfoot should either co-exist as a sports facility, or be used as a community hub instead.

Central Bedfordshire Council has not stated what would happen to the Tiddenfoot site if the new centre goes ahead.

Cllr Clive Palmer and Cllr Gordon Perham outside Tiddenfoot Leisure Centre. Photo: Cllr Palmer

Councillor Palmer told the LBO: "We welcome the new centre. We have no problems with that; we're getting something in Leighton-Linslade.

"But Tiddenfoot is an important community asset. The last thing in the world that people want is for the site to be sold off and housing put on it. If it closes then there's quite a marked loss in the community."

On June 16, Cllr Palmer presented a motion at CBC’s Partnership Committee concerning Tiddenfoot Leisure Centre, which was approved by his fellow members.

The committee will now ask that CBC does the following: "give serious consideration to the case for the continuation of Tiddenfoot as a leisure facility"; and that if this "does not prove practical", to consider whether it could be transferred to third parties or Cedars Upper School.

A sketch of the new centre.

If neither of these options are possible, the committee asks that CBC gives "a firm commitment" to the continuation of Tiddenfoot as a community hub.

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In a background paper accompanying the motion, Cllr Palmer suggests: "At one end of the spectrum this could include civic offices, a police hub, or a health hub, though location and suitability would here be critical questions to answer.

"Apart from such uses, other community activity could, however, be considered such as meeting space for clubs and societies, social or day care related activity, soft play facilities, business start-up offices, and many more."

Meanwhile, his background paper also considers Tiddenfoot's location, referencing 'The Sport England report on Central Bedfordshire Swimming Pools'. This states that Tiddenfoot Leisure Centre is "the better location for swimming demand in the Leighton Buzzard area”.

Emphasising the benefit of retaining a sports facility in Linslade, Cllr Palmer's report states: "To reach the new leisure centre, those to the west have the unenviable choice of access: (a) via the A4146/515 bypass and Eastern Relief Road; (b) through the centre of Leighton-Linslade which is easily the most direct route but very frequently heavily congested; or (c) a northern circuit via Old Linslade which would introduce additional traffic."

On Monday (June 27) Councillor Palmer presented a motion to Leighton-Linslade Town Council, seconded by Cllr Gordon Perham, which asked that the council nominates Tiddenfoot for inclusion in Central Bedfordshire’s Register of Assets of Community Value.

If Tiddenfoot was included, it would mean that the town council or a community group could put in a bid if the site was ever up for sale.

"Although that doesn't mean that the town council or a community group would, or that CBC would accept," added Cllr Palmer.

Cllr Palmer urges residents to include their views about Tiddenfoot in CBC's leisure centre consultation. Closing date: July 22. One final engagement event is also taking place on Saturday, July 2 (10am-3pm) at Leighton Buzzard Library Theatre.

A Central Bedfordshire Council spokeswoman said: “The consultation is still live and people are welcome to have their say on the proposals.”