FEARS of leaking methane gas have sparked gossip that a village recreation centre is closing.

Loftus Leisure Centre manager Mike Readman criticised the rumours, saying they had hit day-time attendances at the centre - the nearest building to the former dump at the centre of the scare.

A growing build-up of ground water has been registered on the site of an old tip. Pockets of potentially explosive methane gas generated by decomposing waste could now be pushed nearer to the surface.

Mr Readman said attendance had fallen after a busy holiday period and centre staff had been confronted with gossip that the centre was closing because of the danger of gas.

"It is perfectly true that there is some methane leakage in the area - but that is well away from the centre and has no effect on Loftus Leisure Centre or it's operation," he said. "It's business as usual."

Redcar and Cleveland Council, which inherited the tip from Cleveland County Council, has called in a consultant for advice.