STEVE Cram and Paralympic gold medallist Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson last night demanded local authorities safeguard leisure facilities.
The pair criticised deep budget cuts on Tyneside that have forced council chiefs to axe swimming pools.
The future of many of Newcastle’s facilities and libraries is in jeopardy after council leaders targeted them as part of £90m of spending cuts.
Under-threat pools will go within three years if private sector firms or community groups can’t be found to run them. Steve Cram said it was a “massive concern”. He said: “Sport is not always going to be top of the agenda for local and central Government.
“But these facilities are vital and you lose an awful lot in the community if you close them. If you do not replace facilities there’s a lot of people who lose out.”
Baroness Thompson said: “Some of the cuts coming means that local authority are squeezed. But without these people are less fit and less able to work. It has an impact on our economy. I would urge local authorities to avoid this because young people need somewhere to play.”