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Last Updated: Monday, 8 December, 2003, 12:04 GMT
Election fight over leisure centre
Swansea Leisure Centre
The leisure centre was opened by the Queen in 1977
Campaigners fighting to save Swansea Leisure Centre are to contest a by-election for a seat on the city's council.

They met on Monday to select a candidate to stand in next month's election for the vacant Cockett ward.

The centre closed last month after Swansea Council said a structural report on the building showed it needed 14m worth of repairs.

But campaigners have questioned the figure and hope to use the election to demonstrate support for finding the money needed to re-open it.

It saddens me that it has come to this but closing it has been a bitter blow to the people of Swansea
Gerald Murphy

Former council leader Gerald Murphy, who is leading the protest, told BBC News Online: "We will use the by-election to test the water.

"We want the council to make the report public as there are questions about how it has arrived at this figure of 14m.

Mid January

"It saddens me that it has come to this but closing it has been a bitter blow to the people of Swansea.

"There are many user groups and last year it was used by more than 700,000 people."

The Cockett council seat became vacant in October following the death of council presiding officer Vic Alexander.

No date has been fixed for the election but it is likely to take place in the middle of January.

Council Leader Lawrence Bailey said the campaigners would have to argue the case for spending 14m on repairs that would still only guarantee its future for a further five years.

Concert hall

He said the money equated to a 28% increase in council tax.

The council has already placed advertisements for a private sector backer for a scheme to build a 35m arts and conference complex on the site.

The shopping list of facilities it wants to see in a new centre include a concert hall which can seat up to 3,000 and enough hotel rooms to cater for a conference centre they also want on the site.

Meanwhile the authority says it is working with regular users to find alternative venues.

Talks have taken place with the city's 1,000 strong indoor bowls community to find players a new permanent home.

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