Blind man’s anger over sauna axeing

Reg Pallas is upset that Crowtree Leisure centre are closing their sauna which he visits 3 times a week, pictured with his guide dog Shane,

Reg Pallas is upset that Crowtree Leisure centre are closing their sauna which he visits 3 times a week, pictured with his guide dog Shane,

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A BLIND man says he has been left high and dry by leisure centre cutbacks.

Reg Pallas, 71, visits the sauna at Crowtree Leisure Centre three days a week, but will soon no longer be able to go.

It is to close to casual users and only accept club and sports hall block bookings.

Sunderland Council said the centre must make “significant savings,” due to budget reductions.

But Reg, of Fordham Road, Ford Estate, said: “I can’t understand why they’re closing Crowtree, it gets well used seven days a week.

“Going to the sauna has become a very social thing for me and I’ve made a lot of friends there.

“Even the staff have got to know my guide dog Shane really well.

“They look after him for me while I’m in the sauna. There’s nowhere else I can easily get to on my own.

“It would be too difficult for me to get to Hetton or Washington, and it would cost a fortune to get taxis all the time.

“There’s times I’ve got the bus and the driver has let me off at the wrong stop, and I couldn’t see anything to figure out where I was or how to get where I wanted to go.

“I’ve had to stand around until I can find someone to help me – it can be quite scary.”

Reg said the closing of Crowtree to individual users has hit the regulars hard.

“I’m really upset about it. Even the able-bodied lads who could go somewhere else are upset.

“I can’t understand why they’re doing it.”

Julie D Gray, head of community services at the council said: “We can confirm that the sauna facilities will no longer be available at Crowtree Leisure Centre as of October 1.

“However, the city council does provide sauna facilities at Hetton Community Pool and Washington Leisure Centre.

“We have spoken with Mr Pallas twice regarding the sauna at Crowtree Leisure Centre, and we will continue to work with him to identify his needs and to try and source suitable alternative service provision.

“There are other providers in Sunderland which offer sauna facilities.”

Twitter: @sunderlandecho