Sunday 24 September 2017

Smith leisure centre proposal axed

Sir Cyril Smith is reported to have weighed 29 stone at his heaviest
Sir Cyril Smith is reported to have weighed 29 stone at his heaviest

A proposal to name a leisure centre after the late MP Sir Cyril Smith, who was said to have weighed 29 stone at his heaviest, has been withdrawn.

Town hall bosses in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, asked councillors for their ideas on what the refurbished building should be called.

One suggestion put forward - reportedly by Sir Cyril's godson Councillor Dale Mulgrew - was The Sir Cyril Smith Sports Complex.

"Larger-than-life" Sir Cyril died last year at the age of 82 after he served as the Liberal and later Liberal Democrat MP for Rochdale between 1972 and 1992. He became famous for his distinctive appearance and frequent outspoken television appearances in the 1970s and 1980s.

The centre is due to open next year and will house a swimming pool, a sports hall, fitness rooms, dance studios and a youth gym.

The Manchester Evening News reported it had seen an email sent by Councillor Mulgrew on the subject which read: "Apart from the plaque that we intend to unveil outside the town hall next month, which really is no more than a small civic commemoration, the town won't have a totemic, significant memorial in lasting tribute to Cyril's work. After all, Gracie Fields has a theatre.

"Clearly, a lot of Cyril's work over his time was around education, and clearly the new leisure centre will have a schools dimension because it will be used during the day by our local education establishments.

"This is about a lasting memorial, irrespective of the facility, and Cyril would have promoted the community and social aspects of this building."

Rochdale Borough Council said the suggestion has since been taken back.

Jacqui Jacobs, the council's project manager for the new leisure centre, said: "There was a suggestion that the centre be named after Sir Cyril Smith, but this was subsequently withdrawn. The name of the centre will be announced in due course."

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