Cost-cutting plans for Flintshire leisure centres ‘called in’

Reporter:

Matt Jones

A CRUNCH meeting has been called over controversial cost-cutting plans at three leisure centres.

Labour councillors Aaron Shotton, Bernie Attridge, Chris Bithell and Ann Minshull have hit-out at the decision by Flintshire Council’s executive to press ahead with cost-cutting measures to save money from the leisure services budget.

They have called-in the decision because of fears over job losses, the lack of consultation and plans for governors at Connah’s Quay High School, at Castell Alun in Hope and at St David’s High School in Saltney, to take over the running of the leisure centres, which are on school grounds, and keep them open for public use.

Cllr Attridge, a governor at Connah’s Quay High School, said: “We have called in the decision taken by the executive. It is because we want to seek more information on the effects of the decision upon the sports centres, particularly the reduction in staff and concern over the lack of meaningful consultation with service users.

“There is no agreement in place between Connah’s Quay High School and the council. We are concerned about it. If we did not call it in and they did not come up with anything the sports centre could close to the public.

“The fear is that they will close to the public but stay open for school use.

“Sports clubs like Connah’s Quay Cricket Club and the football teams who train on the pitches will suffer.”

The “call-in” is set to be discussed at a meeting of the council’s lifelong learning scrutiny committee on Thursday. The decision could then be referred to the full council for approval, or the committee could decide to accept the decision.

Cllr Bithell said governors had been unwilling to take control of the centres in the past.

He said: “We are concerned about the provision for the public. It is a reduction in terms of the service we provide. The other bodies are not prepared to step up and take responsibility for the centres. They have other things to run.

“They are also talking in terms of town and community councils, but they are already under pressure.

“It is up to the committee to make a decision about this. It will no doubt be discussed thoroughly and then they will decide what the next course of action will be.”

But Saltney Mold Junction councillor Klaus Armstrong-Braun, a governor at St David’s, said he was hopeful an agreement on the centre could be agreed and that it could remain open as an all-ages general purpose site.

Other cost-cutting measures in the leisure services action plan include closing the crèche at Flint Pavillion.

An option has also been put forward by a “well-known high street” caterer to take over cafe services at Flint which had been earmarked for closure.

See full story in the Leader

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