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From The Socialist newspaper, 26 January 2022

Hundreds protest to save St Mary's Leisure Centre in Southampton

Fighting cuts in Southampton, photo Nick Chaffey

Fighting cuts in Southampton, photo Nick Chaffey   (Click to enlarge)

Nick Chaffey, Southampton Socialist Party

Southampton Tory council closed St Marys Leisure Centre on 22 December, locking out hundreds of users. They falsely claim that the building requires "millions" to maintain.

The decision has been met with widespread anger. Campaigners gained coverage for the fight to keep the centre open, with interviews on local TV, radio and in the local press. The petition is gaining support, hundreds have filled in the councils' consultation opposing closure, and hundreds attended a protest on 23 January.

The campaign has taken a clear position, arguing that to have any sustainable future the centre should remain as a council-funded, council-run community sports and leisure facility. It's clear this has widespread support.

While the Labour Party has given support to the campaign, and called the latest protest, it has refused to back the campaign call for council funding and remaining a council facility. This is because when Labour was in control of the council it attempted to farm St Mary's out to the private sector.

With no takers accepted, Labour lost control of the council, with no plan in place to keep the centre going. This has been used by the Tories, unjustifiably, to undermine the case for the centre.

The centre remains popular. Despite being an old building, it remains safe to use.

Incredibly, the council already has £148,000 allocated to run the centre until March. Yet they have closed it, losing potential income at the same time. Madness!

The consultation has now ended. Campaigners are seeking a meeting with the council to discuss its plans.

A freedom of information request has revealed that the council has no surveys of the building to back up its claims that 'millions' are needed. We demand the Tory council withdraws its claims.

Socialist Party members have played a key role in launching this campaign, working with user groups, the local community and building support for the centre's future. A community march is now being organised to build support and to increase pressure on the council.

We call on local Labour councillors to come out publicly to support the call for the centre to remain with the council. If they took a clear no-cuts position on the centre, and backed reversing the recent council cuts, Labour would have a strong chance of rewinning control of the council, and therefore keeping the centre open.

But it's unlikely Labour will take this stand. After controlling the council for nine years, Labour lost seven seats last May as a result of carrying out massive cuts. This included cuts to the local youth club, which was then handed over to the YMCA to run, leaving the building massively underused. Many conclude that Labour's support for the campaign is lukewarm.

Socialist Party members are making the case to stand anti-cuts candidates across the city as the only way to build a real alternative to the ongoing cuts to council jobs and services. This campaign shows how a wider mass movement could be built to restore the £60 million of government funding stolen from Southampton.

Southampton TUSC meeting: How can we reverse council cuts? Saturday 29 January, 2pm, Friends Meeting House, 1A, Ordnance Rd, SO15 2AZ

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In The Socialist 26 January 2022:

What we think

We need a workers' alternative to big business Tories and Labour


Lords reject parts of anti-protest bill

News in brief

Social care providers put profit before residents' needs - nationalise care now

Cost of living

Cost of living crisis

Trade unions and the cuts

Trade unions and the fight against council cuts

Workplace news

Barts NHS workers strike back

Sheffield Just Eat strikers step up action and hold mass rally

Oaks Park School: valiant strike exposed state of schools

Education: Workload and inflation goes up, incomes fall

DWP reps demand action from PCS leadership

10,000 tube workers vote to strike - don't make workers pay for TfL funding crisis

Strike action by Carmarthenshire winter gritters wins concessions from council

Universities: Strike action at 68 in two disputes

Worksop Wincanton logistics workers begin ninth week of strike action

International news

Trade unionists in the USA fighting back

Campaigns news

Hundreds protest to save St Mary's Leisure Centre in Southampton

Wakefield TUSC - Fighting for low-paid workers and NHS

Eviction resistance on the march in Waltham Forest

This is students' chance to fight back - help build 2 March NUS walkout

Selling the Socialist


Britain's waterways choked with a 'chemical cocktail'

Readers' opinion

War in Yemen, made in Harlow, profit for rich

Somers 'slaughterhouse' Forge

UK Covid-19 mortality similar to Spanish Flu

It's my party, and I'll lie if I want to


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Related links:


triangleSave St Mary's Leisure Centre

triangleSouthampton West Socialist Party: The crisis in housing

triangleSouthampton West Socialist Party: British Perspectives - a report from the SP national committee

triangleSouthampton uni ignores staff and students in exam farce

triangleSouthampton student vote for online exams must be accepted


triangleCanada: Prime Minister Trudeau invokes Emergencies Act to end 'Freedom Convoy'

triangleTamil Solidarity protest against repressive Sri Lankan regime

triangleLords reject parts of anti-protest bill

triangleDemonstrating against the Tory anti-protest bill


triangleSandwell Leisure workers resist 'fire and rehire'

triangleSave St Mary's Leisure Centre in Southampton

triangleDon't privatise Dudley libraries


triangleNewham City Farm - closed with no consultation

triangleBrighton Green and Labour cuts - workers and communities fight back


triangleThe Erdington byelection and the fight for a new mass workers' party


triangleSurrey: Unions and campaigns say stand as an anti-cuts candidate

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triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...

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