Newcastle North MP Catherine McKinnell has called on the new Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove, to back Newcastle City Council’s Levelling Up Fund bid to develop a £22mllion state of the art, net-zero carbon Outer West Leisure Centre, including a swimming pool, sports hall and gym, as well as a café, library and community space.

In a letter to Mr Gove, Catherine has highlighted that the closure of the West Denton Pool – due to cost pressures caused by the pandemic – has devastated the local community in the Outer West of Newcastle.

The MP outlined that the bid would be transformational to health outcomes across the Outer West of Newcastle – and area with significant health deprivation challenges – and that the new development would act as an anchor in the local community, playing an important part in rejuvenating the local area.

Earlier this year, during Prime Minister’s Questions, Boris Johnson responded to calls to back the bid by commenting that “she is absolutely right to champion grassroots sport and what it can do for young people and for the health of this country. I certainly hope that the centre she champions will be successful in the levelling-up fund…”

Commenting on the letter, Catherine stated

“Ensuring that residents in the Outer West of Newcastle have access to a state of the art, net-zero carbon leisure facility would be transformational and support the levelling up of health outcomes, one of the most glaring examples of inequality in this country.

“If the new Secretary of State wants to put the Government’s warm words on levelling up into action, he should get behind the bid, ensure the allocation of the necessary funding, and give this proposal from Newcastle City Council the support it deserves.”