A SPORTS centre which faced the risk of closure will now be improved – but some have said that it will leave the southern parishes isolated.

Meadowside Leisure Centre in Whiteley has been operating at a loss in recent years, but Winchester City Council will now plough more money into the site.

At a meeting of the authority’s cabinet Cllr Malcolm Prince, member for sport leisure and communities, said that a new management will be sought for the facility as well.

It comes as the council also announced that a four-court sports hall will not be provided for the southern parishes, and work will come to an end on that proposal.

Cllr Prince told the meeting that it “follows very careful consideration of local needs, existing facilities both public and private within the district and existing facilities in nearby neighbouring districts.”

He added: “It is very important to ensure that our communities in the southern parishes have the necessary leisure provision for their needs in the longer term and the future of Meadowside is carefully considered and planned for.”

However, he continued: “Is not affordable due to the available of existing and future planned leisure and sports hall in the area it is intended to focus on improving the Meadowside facility.”

A tendering exercise will now be carried out for a new management contract, with around £40,000 put aside to strengthen the upper floor of the centre to provide greater use.

Opposition councillor Caroline Brook said in response: “The emphasis seems to be on Meadowside and Meadowside is a facility that is not fit for purpose, it doesn’t have sports hall, it is not accessible for people with disabilities, it would cost a huge amount of residents money to deliver improvements to a centre that is still not going to be a working facility.”

She continued: “The southern parishes are in desperate need of four courts, it shows a clear lack of understanding of what is going on in the southern parishes.

“It feels very much again that central Winchester is being given priority over the rural parishes. It feels like an ill-informed decision.

“This is a further nail in the coffin for making them feel included in part of the Winchester district.”

But civic chiefs said that work will be carried out with schools including North Whiteley and Welborne to provide access for the public to their sports facilities.

Cllr Jackie Porter said: “One of the most important things when we are offered community facilities at a school that we don’t exactly underestimate the difficulty of making sure they are fully open to the community.”