A CIVIC chief has slammed the Labour councillors involved with protests over the closure of a city leisure centre.

Dozens of people, including political figures and local stalwarts, gathered outside the facility in St Mary's Road on Sunday.

They were demanding that it was reopened – but the city council insists that it could cost "over a million pounds" to repair.

Councillor John Hannides said that Labour should have intervened when they were in power.

"In the nine years that Labour ran the council, they were aware of the issues faced by St Mary's but chose not to invest anything into it," he said.

"Not once was this issue addressed, so the problems continued to get worse. So I'd ask why the Labour administration did not invest a single penny into the facility.

"Labour was also quite clearly aware that in December 2021, the contract with Solent University concluded.

"But in the budget they approved in February, there was no sign of finance or allocations to either take over or invest in St Mary's.

"To me, being involved in these protests are the height of hypocrisy."

Speaking on the ongoing consultation, he reassured residents that their views would be heard.

He continued: “We understand that people will be passionate about proposed changes to community facilities such as St Mary’s Leisure Centre. A public consultation is currently live to understand what impact a potential end to leisure services at this venue would have on those who use it and the local community.

“All feedback and responses are being analysed and considered throughout the consultation which closes on Monday January 24 2022. After this date, a final decision will be made on the future of leisure service provision from St Mary’s Leisure Centre.

"Whilst the consultation is ongoing and St Mary’s Leisure Centre is temporarily closed, a number of groups and users have taken up Solent University’s offer to use their Solent Sports Complex where the university has been able to provide access to facilities around their existing academic provision.

"Pending a final decision on the future of leisure services from St Mary’s Leisure centre, where appropriate, we have also been working with other groups affected and attempting to facilitate their requirements at alternative leisure venues across Southampton."

At the protest, Labour councillor Satvir Kaur questioned why the Conservative-run council was considering whether to invest in the leisure centre.

She pointed out that the council has agreed to spend £250,000 to repair Lordswood Close in Bassett – despite it being a private street and not a responsibility of the council.

Cllr Hannides has now responded: "The building has significant structural and maintenance issues and in addition to the current condition survey which amounts to £382,309, there are likely to be expensive structural repairs required which could run into over a million pounds.

"We are not only considering the cost of these repairs but also the implications of improvement which would be required to bring the building in line with our aspirations for leisure facilities within the city.

“All of these factors must be considered when we are making a final decision about the future of leisure services from St Mary’s Leisure Centre and we are doing everything we can to ensure this decision is made as quickly as possible."

The online consultation can be viewed and filled out at: www.southampton.gov.uk/stmarysleisurecentre.