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TV historian backs Gateshead Leisure Centre campaign

David Olusoga, courtesy The British Library/Creative Commons

TV historian David Olusoga has backed a bid to reopen a Gateshead leisure centre which has become the focus of campaigning by two local papers.

Olusoga, a professor of public history at the University of Manchester who has presented numerous BBC history documentaries as well as appearing on The One Show, has lent his support to the campaign to reopen Gateshead Leisure Centre, which he used to visit while growing up.

The Newcastle Chronicle launched the ‘Save Our Leisure Centres’ campaign earlier this year in a bid to keep the centre open after it was threatened by public spending cuts, but it shut its doors in July none the less.

Now sister paper The Journal has splashed on Olusoga’s support for the centre. Olusoga told the paper: “I am genuinely shocked, I am really saddened for my hometown. This is a disgrace.

“This is one of the best facilities in the town of Gateshead, this is a place that transformed my life when I was growing up, it is somewhere that is enormously valuable to the people of this town and I cannot believe that we are in a position where this beautiful building is in the state that it is today.”

The centre was closed on July 21 this year, and the Chronicle reports that a review by the local council will now take place to “establish the reasoning behind the closure of some facilities, identify lessons learned” and help the future transfer of facilities from the council’s care to external organisations.

The review will also focus on how the council can continue to provide leisure services but at a reduced cost and “explore what worked well and what worked less well”.

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