A LEADING sports club’s multi-million pound plan to switch grounds will be opposed, a local councillor has warned.
Coun George Elsom plans to fight South Shields and Westoe Club’s possible takeover of the former Brinkburn Comprehensive School site.
He insists there will be significant local opposition to any plan which threatens the future of a swimming pool and community centre in the school’s grounds.
Coun Elsom, the Real Independent councillor for Cleadon Park, says he fears it may already be a “done deal” after the club and council chiefs admitted holding secret talks.
Last week, club bosses confirmed they had appointed builder Bellway as the preferred developer of their existing Wood Terrace ground a mile away.
Coun Elsom claims he is not against Westoe’s teams moving to the Brinkburn site, provided the pool and centre are maintained independently.
He said: “The interests of the sports club really are secondary to those of the community centre, which must be left alone.
“I’m worried about this and I am willing to fight. The community centre and pool must come first.
“The community centre has been there for years and has thousands of members, but I do fear it is a fait accompli between the club and the council.
“I have been asking the council about rumours of this development for two years. I was told that talks had been held but that there was nothing unusual in that.
“I feel I have been misled by the council. I think talks are a lot further down the line than they are letting on.”
The club – which has cricket, rugby, squash and tennis sections – insists negotiations are at an early stage and that other possible locations are being examined.
Bosses are anxious to improve facilities away from their ground in Dean Road, Westoe, where South Shields Cricket Club has played since 1868 and Westoe rugby since 1875.
The swimming pool at Brinkburn is believed to have been given £200,000 from Sport England for refurbishment just two years ago.
A further £30,000 grant paid for an outdoor multi-games court within the past couple of months.
The community centre, which is largely self-funded, is home to numerous sports, dance and other groups.
The school’s grounds also have one of just two 400m running tracks in South Tyneside.
South Tyneside Council have confirmed that there have been preliminary talks with the club over a possible move.