A TOP TV star has blasted the controversial closure of a Hagley leisure centre as “barking mad”.

BBC presenter Adrian Chiles, who grew up in the village, added his support to the campaign to save Haybridge Sports Centre which faces the axe from Bromsgrove District Council.

Staff at the centre, in Brake Lane, have already been given redundancy notices and the facility is set to close to the public in March as part of council cost cutting.

Match of The Day presenter, Adrian, said: “In my broadcasting career it's been my privilege to meet, and report on, many barking mad people and the barking mad decisions they make.

“But I really can't think of many more barking mad decisions than the one to close the Sports Centre.

“We all know budgets are tight, funds are finite, and sacrifices have to be made somewhere, but surely there's a more intelligent option than closing down such a marvellous facility barely ten years after it opened.”

After the Stourbridge News revealed the centre was to close, angry villagers began a campaign to reverse the decision and the battle may be heading for a High Court showdown.

Protestor, Dr David Nicholl, of Woodland Avenue, said: “The council have acted disgracefully, and have completely neglected to engage the local community nor look at valid alternatives.

“This decision must be reversed or we will need to consider a High Court injunction to stop this closure.”

Around 500 villagers have already signed a petition opposing the closure on the Downing Street website.

Members of the public were set to see council bosses face tough questions at a meeting in the village community centre last night (Wednesday) to discuss the closure.

One of the topics on the agenda will be the council’s own concerns about cutting sports facilities in the village.

In a report to Bromsgrove District Council’s Executive Cabinet in 2006 officers say closure would mean: “members of society not able to join a private club or have access to transport would be denied access to local affordable sports facilities.

“Council would be less able to respond to the 'health agenda’”.

Hagley GP, Dr David Richards, believes cutting costs by closing the centre would be racking up greater expenses for the future.

Dr Richards said: “The council should be diverting more resources into attracting more people to play sport and exercise and improve their health, rather than close the sports centre to save money.

“The closure may reduce council expenditure, but surely the council must realise that there are other costs that will follow, such as increased demand on healthcare services due to poorer health and obesity.”