CALLS to save three Flintshire leisure centres have been made ahead of a crunch meeting on their future.

Flintshire Council’s executive will today discuss a controversial plan which could see three sites close to the public and axe more than 60 jobs.

The centres at Connah’s Quay High School, Castell Alun in Hope and St David’s High School in Saltney would remain open for school use. But there has been widespread criticism of the proposals.

Buckley councillor Ron Hampson, the Labour group’s spokesman for leisure, said he would like to see an upcoming strategic director’s role on the council remain empty to save money and keep the centres open.

He said: “Leisure centres are very important. They are quite well used and people are very disappointed.

“We should be trying to keep kids off the street. The losses are minimal, in total about £70,000.

“We are down to make the appointment of a strategic director in Flintshire for £100,000 a year.

“The system is running well – I think we can save the money and do without.”

Canteen staff at the centres in Holywell, Mold and Flint could be replaced by vending machines, the popular Swim Flintshire scheme could be scrapped, and the creche at Flint Pavilion could also close. Council bosses say the cuts are the only way to cancel out a massive overspend on leisure services in recent years.

Last week a meeting of the lifelong learning scrutiny committee voted to reject the
proposals but the go-ahead to begin consultation on the report could be given today.

Penyffordd councillor Cindy Hinds said the loss of the centre in Hope would be a massive blow to the community.

She said: “It would put the children back on the streets again, it is a vicious circle.

“We have about four or five teams who play on the pitch during the winter. They deserve to play. We have about 200 children who play football in the village.”

Some staff will be redeployed to other leisure centres but most will be offered redundancy if plans get the green light.

It is hoped school governors could take over control of the centres and operate them as community-focused centres such as Hawarden High School and The Argoed, Mynydd Isa, and keep them open to members of the public outside of school hours.