SENIOR Liberal Democrats have met sports clubs to discuss concerns over the proposed leisure centre.

Lib Dem leader Lucille Thompson with councillors Jackie Porter, Martin Tod and Brian Laming, visited the Weston Park Blades junior squad netball training session at Sparsholt College.

She went to speak to the club about its aspirations over the proposed £38 million sports centre at Bar End.

The Lib Dems want a review of the current proposal which includes an eight-badminton court hall rather than the larger 12-court hall.

The motion was approved by the Council but, as yet, no review has been conducted nor any new plans submitted.

Cllr Thompson said: “We are particularly concerned that the reduced size of the sports hall will mean that our local clubs such as The Blades, one of the best netball clubs in the country, will struggle to get time or sufficient space at the new centre in order to train its senior squads and, especially, its rising stars. Bar End needs to be the best it can be but, at the moment, its capacity falls well short of the facility the district really needs.”

Simon Stow, chairman of Weston Park Blades Netball Club, said: “We welcome the development of any new facility in Winchester that will encourage participation in all sports, particularly netball which has so many benefits in terms of the health and self-confidence of young women.

“At Weston Park Blades we have players of the highest calibre – the Viper 10 Blades are currently ranked second in the country – but the more facilities there are, where we can train squads together, the more inclusive and popular the sport can become. We would dearly love to find a place for everyone on our waiting list, and to start a squad playing from the age of six.”

Cllr Jackie Porter added: “The new sports centre needs to be able to host high-level events to inspire and to entertain us all. The city council’s lack of ambition to increase the centre’s capacity to allow for the greater participation at all levels of sport is frustrating the wonderful clubs in our district which all have growing numbers of children on their waiting lists.”

Cllr Thompson has met club representatives of basketball, athletics, gymnastics and other sports in order to get a personal view of what the district’s residents need. She said: “What I am finding is lots of small problems pointed out by all the clubs which amount to one big mistake about to be made by the council.”

The ruling-Conservative group has pointed out they will not be able to meet everyone’s wish list.