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Boxers aiming to set up base at swimming pool
BLACKBIRD Leys Amateur Boxing Club is hoping its search for a new home could end in an empty swimming pool.
The club is on the look-out for a new home to accommodate its more than 50 members.
It wants to move into Blackbird Leys Leisure Centre, Blackbird Leys Road, when it is replaced by a new £7.2m facility in Pegasus Road.
It hopes it can move into the old leisure centre and set up a ring in the drained pool when the new facility opens in December next year.
The club has used Blackbird Leys Community Centre for more than 30 years but coaches have to dismantle all equipment, including the ring, after every session.
Head coach Tony Gibson said as the new pool was being built the club could move into the Blackbird Leys Road facility, which has changing rooms and showers.
He said: “We need to move somewhere bigger. It just makes sense. Apparently when the new centre opens they will keep it open for a little while, but we are not worried how long we have to wait. If it is going to be there for us it would be ideal.”
He said the club could rent or even buy the facility from the owners Oxfordshire County Council, adding: “It all depends on how much they want for it.”
The county council said no decision has been made.
Blackbird Leys Parish Council chairman Gordon Roper said: “It could work. It sounds like a good idea. The boxing club is well used and if they got a permanent place I should imagine membership would increase.”
But he said it would be a “shame” to lose the current pool, adding: “There is a lot of heritage at that little pool.”
Last year, after an appeal in the Oxford Mail, the owners of the iKidz Activity Club said the boxing club could use a spare room at the Ozone Leisure Park.
But after a visit Mr Gibson said the space was not practical as there were no changing rooms or toilets nearby.
Oxford City Council has had planning permission and funding for the new pool since 2011. But it has faced legal challenges, including two judicial reviews, in the past two years.
Opponents of the scheme claim the council is wasting money on a new facility, when the existing pools at Temple Cowley and Blackbird Leys could be updated. Temple Cowley would close under the plans.
County council spokesman Marcus Mabberley said: “No decision has been made about what may happen to this site.
“All options will, of course, be considered before a final decision is made.”
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