Thursday, 27 August 2009

Maysfield.....gone but certainly not forgotten!!

The once familiar logo of Maysfield Leisure Centre shows how the Centre has fallen into disuse

When I was a kid we always looked forward to the summer break and my mother taking me and my brothers to Maysfield at least twice a week. My mother is an avid swimmer, who used this facility regularly; now she attends the Falls Road Leisure Centre 3 times a week.

By the time of it's closure in 2004, Maysfield was one of the oldest Leisure Centres in the city and certainly in need of redevelopment.

At the time Sinn Féin Councillors opposed the closure of this site; the City Council promised a new leisure facility would be built in the general south Belfast area to replace Maysfield by 2009. Alas, that hasn't been the case.

Since selected by Sinn Féin to represent them in this part of Béal Feirste, I have highlighted the fallacy in allowing Maysfield to lie vacant on a number of occasions. I remember having to endure one particularly cringe worthy piece recorded by the 'Politics Show' in which I had to run along the Lagan walkway several times!!!

Maysfield was unique in our still divided city, in that it brought people from various communities together, not just to swim and train and have fun, but Maysfield was known in Belfast as venue for exhibitions, discos and concerts. It remains a massive loss to the people.

Bear in mind that Maysfield is surrounded by some of the most socio-economically deprived communities in the north of Ireland; the Markets, the Short Strand, Castlreagh Road, Lower Newtonards Road, Lower Ravenhill Road, the Woodstock, are all communities that would benefit in terms of social recreation provision but also in terms of health and fitness, were the Council to fulfill their pledge and keep to their promises.

Maysfield was a place that I, like countless others, grew up enjoying and using regularly. As it stands, the Council are allowing a prime piece of land to lie vacant and in my opinion, are also denying thousands of citizens adequate provision of fitness, sport and recreational facilities.

I have once again contacted the Council, this time the Parks and Leisure Committee, asking the Councillors who sit on it to urgently review the use of this site and it's potential for development in the immediate time ahead.

People cannot continue to go without, particularly the communities who already have so little by way of leisure facilities. I look forward to a response from the Council and I also look forward to seeing what action the relevant sections of the Council take to the address this ongoing problem.

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