A PETITION calling for the reopening of a popular leisure centre has been sent to the Dorset Councils.

The paper and electronic forms of a petition to reopen the Queen Elizabeth Leisure Centre has attracted almost 7,000 signatures.

The petition was started shortly after Dorset Council and Initio Learning Trust announced the centre would close for public use.

Petition co-organiser Rebecca Il Ghany said: "This may be the highest signature total ever collected for a petition addressed to Dorset Council. The huge number demonstrates the scale of public support for the cause."

Stour and Allen Vale ward councillor Will Chakawhata accepted the petition.

He was accompanied by two colleagues, Duncan Sowry-House and Jindy Atwal, who represent neighbouring wards.

The issue is expected to be debated at a forthcoming meeting of the full council.

In the local government reorganisation of 2019, management of the centre passed to Dorset Council.

QELC Action believes following this it was inadequately maintained or promoted, leading to a decline in revenue, amplified by the pandemic.

The group argued with appropriate promotion and price adjustment to market rates, the need for a subsidy, which the Dorset Council mentioned as a fundamental reason for its withdrawal, could be eliminated.

Rebecca added: "The permanent loss of such a key health facility in the growing community would be devastating.

"QELC has played an essential part in keeping our community fit, active and improving mental health across all age groups."