A SPECIALIST Oxford leisure centre used by hundreds of disabled people is facing closure because of a £48,000 photocopier bill.

Oxsrad, the Oxford and District Sports and Recreation Association for the Disabled, has provided sports facilities for a wide range of disabled groups for more than 20 years at its Marston base.

But the registered charity is in financial difficulty and struggling to pay a five-year bill for photocopying services, including main- tenance.

And, if it cannot find the money, it could be closed within weeks.

The centre’s trustees met this week to discuss the cash crisis and two anonymous donors have pledged money to help keep Oxsrad open.

Centre manager Paul Saxton said the donations would not cover the unpaid bill, although it would give trustees the chance to try to negotiate a settlement.

He said: “The trustees voted against voluntary insolvency and have decided to fight on for as long as they can.”

Mr Saxton said the five-year contract for two photocopiers had been signed with Essex-based NCS Ltd in 2007 by a previous manager. The contract is managed by BNP Paribas Lease Group (Rentals) Limited.

Mr Saxton, who took charge in 2008, said he immediately realised the centre could not afford the payments and had tried, unsuccessfully, to negotiate a settlement for the past 18 months.

BNP Paribas took the matter to court and Oxsrad has now been served with a county court judgement ordering it to pay £48,851.

If the money is not paid the charity could be served with a winding up order.

Mr Saxton said: “We accept the contract has been signed, and yes it is a legal contract. But we have said: ‘Come and see what we are all about and look at our bank account’.”

The centre, based at Court Place Farm, in Marsh Lane, provides sports and recreation facilities for both able-bodied people and those with a wide range of disabilities.

It was opened by Princess Diana in 1989, and includes a sports hall, specialist gym equipment, sensory room, spa bath and treatment room.

Activities provided by the centre’s seven staff include archery, trampolining and an integrated youth club.

Mr Saxton said the centre was unique in its ability to cater for a wide range of needs and attracted visitors from across the county.

He said: “We have hundreds of users – more than 30 disabled groups use us on a regular basis.

“Come September they might not be able to come back, so where will they go?

“We make the necessary arrangements for people to join in. The great thing about the centre is that nobody judges.”

Paul Tucker, who runs Kid Active children’s activity sessions at the centre, said: “Once they step in here it is a level platform.

“I have a background in sports and I have never seen a place like this that caters for everyone.

“If the centre was not here we would be homeless.”

The Charity Commission says the trustees are ultimately responsible for a charity, including its finances and employment of any staff.

The Oxford Mail contacted BNP Paribas and NCS Ltd, but both companies declined to comment.