By Chris Young, Local Democracy Reporter

ARRANGEMENTS are being made to turn Bradford’s Richard Dunn Sports Centre into a temporary mortuary should the current Coronavirus crisis escalate.

Bradford Council has revealed that it is looking at the large leisure centre at Odsal, which was closed in November, as a possible mortuary “to cover all eventualities in the current medical emergency.”

It follows news that a number of other Councils are putting emergency plans in place to use sports facilities as mortuaries should the number of deaths overwhelm the current bereavement services.

This time last year, the iconic Richard Dunn Centre would have been filled with families enjoying their Easter holidays in its swimming pool and on its popular water slides.
And just a few months ago, the centre was a buzz of activity when it hosted the general election count.

It is a sign of how significant the current Covid-19 crisis is that this building, one of the largest in the District, is now being considered as a morgue.

The centre shut in November, shortly after the new Sedbergh Sports Centre opened a short distance away.

Originally the centre was due to be demolished in May or June, with the Council retaining the site for future use.

A spokesman for Bradford Council told the Local Democracy Reporting Service today: “All Local Authorities across the country are having to make arrangements for temporary mortuaries as a precaution, to cover all eventualities in the current medical emergency.

“It would be irresponsible for Bradford Council not to.

“Bradford Council’s emergency planning team are making arrangements at the former Richard Dunn Sports Centre for a Bradford District facility.

“Lots of community centres and business locations all over the district are being used by the council, its partners and volunteers to support the effort in this national crisis.

“We are grateful that people are opening up their doors to help the people of the district in this, our time of need.”

Councillor David Warburton (Lab, Wyke) said: “It is an unfortunate position we find ourselves in, but this is an available site for the Council.

“This will be a last resort if needed. The Council is putting itself in the position where it has a back up, and that space is available if really needed.

“I was informed earlier today that this was the situation. I’d like to re-assure people that if they do see people working on the site then this is what they”ll be working on.”

Last month the government suggested authorities in areas with high populations should plan for “the reasonable worst-case scenario”, which could lead to existing morgues being overwhelmed.

Leeds Council recently announced that it had received emergency permission to build a temporary mortuary facility to help cope with expected increase in deaths due to Covid-19.

The facility is expected to be housed in Waterside Industrial Park in Stourton.

And Calderdale Council announced that Shay Stadium in Halifax would be used in the same way.