RESIDENTS in Wimborne continue to rally against the closure of a leisure centre to members of the public. 

Thousands of people have backed a petition to save the Queen Elizabeth Leisure Centre (QELC) in Wimborne.

Despite a dual-use agreement between Dorset Council and Queen Elizabeth's School (part of Initio Learning Trust) running for another 60 years, the local authority said it could no longer fund the loss-making centre.

Several petitions have been set up by individuals and businesses from around Wimborne, gathering thousands of signatures.

Felicity Frost is a self-employed professional who has lived and worked in Wimborne since 2005.

Felicity feels strongly the leisure centre is a 'valuable asset' to Wimborne's community.

She has set up a petition to get Dorset Council to reconsider closing the leisure centre to the general public.

Felicity said: "When the closure notices went up around the leisure centre, I decided I had to try and do something.

"After writing to Dorset Council and Michael Tomlinson MP, my partner Steve Parlour helped me make the petition and a few posters to see what support there was to save QELC."

Her petition has currently received more than 700 signatures, while the online petition has 875 signatures.

Felicity said: "QE Leisure Centre is important to Wimborne and the surrounding area as it has so many health and fitness facilities at one site.

"It has a pool, so essential for people learning to swim. Plenty of people need the support of water to be able to take exercise.

"QELC also has some unusual facilities; the bouldering wall and top rope climbing are not available anywhere else locally."

She added: "When we are constantly being told to keep active, and with so much emphasis being put on mental health, it makes no sense in the long term to close our leisure centre.

"The costs will be transferred to the NHS and social care, and older and disabled people in particular may suffer more isolation and loss of strength and mobility."

Dorset Council previously said trustees were given two years' notice it would withdraw from the current managements at the end of March 2024.