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Sir Chris Bonington joins Carlisle climbing wall protest

The protest. Credit: ITV Border

Around one hundred people staged a protest outside the Sands Centre today, in a bid to save Carlisle's only lead climbing wall.

Famous mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington was among the protestors, who want Carlisle City Council to reconsider plans to remove the wall, as part of a £19m refurbishment of the Centre.

I'm here today to support everyone trying to keep this wonderful wall open for Carlisle. It's the only proper climbing wall in Carlisle, and I think climbing walls are just so important for society as a whole, and particularly for the youngsters."

– Sir Chris Bonington

There's plenty of other gyms and swimming pools people can use, but this is our only wall. So we've come here today, you can see by the number of children and adults who are involved in climbing, it's a big community that we have here. The history of climbing in Cumbria is vast."

– Pete Gunn, Climbing Instructor and protest organiser

The Council's £19m refurbishment plans include creating new swimming pools, as well as a sports hall, fitness suite and dance and exercise studios.

We welcome responses from existing and potential new users of the site and have met with the organiser of the climbing protest. The discussion was positive and we appreciate hearing first-hand their concerns. The door is open for further meetings to discuss options for the climbing wall. This could include looking at relocating it to another venue.

– Carlisle City Council spokesperson