DOZENS of people protested in support of saving a significant leisure centre in Wimborne.

A petition was also launched as a campaign to save the Queen Elizabeth leisure centre in Wimborne.

The peaceful protest proved popular with residents of Wimborne and many stopped by to offer their support for the campaign.

Bournemouth Echo:

Elizabeth Mills, one of the protestors said: “It'll be devastating.

“We're going to lose all this amazing resource swimming pool next week.

So, we are trying to save it because we're so close to the sea as well.

“It's important that kids learn to swim, save lives and for their mental health and fitness. It's just super important. And there aren't many other swimming pools around us that have got availability for public swimming or any spaces in swimming lessons.

“People are really struggling to find anywhere else to go with the imminent closure of QE.

"So it's really sad for the kids. I can't even envision the future.

“I've been working there 28 years and swimming is in our family and it's so important for the community.”

QE Leisure Centre is scheduled to close on April 1 after Dorset Council decided to remove its funding from the centre.

Facilities such as a swimming pool, a squash court, a climbing wall, a gym and dance studios will be lost to public members.

Bournemouth Echo:

The loss of the climbing wall to the public will mean the closest comparable facilities will be in either Southampton or Exeter.

A spokeswoman for the protest said: “We’re all here today because we need the leisure centre to remain open.

“It will affect so many lives and children need to learn the basics of how to swim.”

A spokesman said: “In recent years, the population of Wimborne and its tax base, has increased by a third.

“Further housing development is in progress in Wimborne and the wider catchment area which also includes BCP districts.

“All of this increases demand for leisure and sports facilities and generates additional council tax income which ironically will contribute to subsidies for other leisure facilities that are remote from Wimborne.”

Previously Dorset Council said following the decision by elected members back in early 2022, trustees were given two years’ notice by the authority confirming it would withdraw from the current management arrangements at the end of March 2024. 

It added: "This decision was made as the council subsidises QELC by around £500,000 each year, which is around a third of their overall leisure centres budget.

"In an area where seven public leisure facilities are within a 20 min drive of QELC - three of which are owned by Dorset Council – it was considered that the council could not justify the continued public-funding of the centre."

The protest took place today (March 16) outside Waitrose in Wimborne.