Football clubs reveal fears over training if Flintshire leisure centres shut

Reporter:

Lois Hough

FOOTBALL clubs fear they will be kicked off their home turf if plans for a radical shake-up of leisure services are approved.

The Leader revealed yesterday that proposals have been put forward to close the sports centres at Connah’s Quay High School, Castell Alun in Hope and St David’s High School in Saltney to the public, but keep them open for school use.

Council bosses say the cuts are the only way to cancel out a massive overspend on leisure services in recent years.

But football clubs fear they will be out on the streets if their training grounds are taken away.

Among them are Connah’s Quay Tigers Football Club, which has more than 200 players who train at Connah’s Quay Sports Centre on Golftyn Lane every week.

Club vice-chairman Frank Gallimore said: “It really is a scary thought. Training grounds around here are few and far between so we really would be stuck if we lost this place.

“We book the sports centre well in advance because it’s always so busy. You only have to go up there on a Friday night to see how popular it is, so I don’t understand how they are in trouble.

“Winter is coming so we really do need the astroturf pitches. I don’t know what we would do if they shut.”

More than 60 jobs will be lost if plans are pushed through at County Hall on Thursday.

Some staff will be redeployed to other leisure centres but most will be offered redundancy.

The leader of the opposition, Connah’s Quay central councillor Aaron Shotton, added: “Why they want to get rid of the centre in Connah’s Quay is beyond me because we are the biggest town in the county. It is disappointing that the council is attacking the services that most benefit the community.”

The sports centre in Saltney, popular for tae kwon do, cheerleading and fencing, could also be closed to the public.

Canteen posts at Holywell, Mold and Flint centres will be at risk to make way for vending machines if plans go ahead and the popular creche at Flint Pavilion will also close.

Flint councillor Ian Roberts said it would be a sore loss to the community.

“That cafe is a hive of activity for the people in Flint,” he said. “It seems a real shame to me because it is always so busy.”

If the proposed cuts go ahead then £188,593 will be freed up to tackle the £282,000 overspend made in the last year.

Councillors are being urged to make an early decision so that cuts can be implemented before March 2011 – the next financial year.

If plans are approved, consultation with staff and trade unions will begin immediately.

Cllr Dennis Hutchinson, executive member for leisure services, said: “The lifelong learning overview and scrutiny committee will be considering a range of strategies to control expenditure and focus services on participation in sport.”

See full story in the Leader

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