THREE leisure centres facing closure have been granted a stay of execution.
An initial plan to close centres at Connah’s Quay High School, Castell Alun in Hope and St David’s High School in Saltney to the public was reconsidered by council bosses following a public outcry.
A second plan to allow school governors to take over the running of the facilities also prompted concern from councillors and was called-in for a crunch meeting.
Yesterday members of the lifelong learning scrutiny committee voted to bring the Leisure Action Plan back before the executive for further discussions.
Mold councillor Chris Bithell is unconvinced that school governors could successfully take over the running of the leisure centres.
He said: “This is becoming a game of pass the parcel.
“We have got a deficit in the leisure budget and we’re hoping to deal with the problem by passing it on to somebody else.
“But it’s a tall order for them because there are problems managing the school budget as it is without managing a leisure centre too.”
The initial proposal which outlined plans to cut 60 jobs, close the crèche at Flint Pavilion and scrap the Swim Flintshire programme was met with uproar from members of the public.
The crèche at Flint Pavilion will close at the end of the financial year and a revised tariff at leisure centres will come into effect in January saving more than £400,000.
Council bosses say the cuts are the only way to cancel out a massive overspend on leisure services in recent years.
But concerns have been mounting that a public consultation, launched in October after plans were exclusively revealed in the Leader, had not been as far-reaching as hoped.
Cllr Bernie Attridge said there was hardly any communication with Connah’s Quay High School where he is a governor.
“I would have expected more meaningful discussions with the headteachers and the service users,” he said. “It is the end of the road if this goes through and it means closure for our leisure centres.
“They cannot serve the community if school governors take over.”
Greenfield Cllr Rosetta Dolphin added: “My son uses Holywell Leisure Centre almost every night and not once has he been able to have his say.”
But Ian Budd, director of lifelong learning, insisted the department had a good response to the consultation.
He said: “The consultation was a genuine consultation and we had a high level of response and constructive ideas.”
Councillors are being urged to make a swift decision so that cuts can be implemented before March.
The Leisure Action Plan will come before the executive again on January 18.
See full story in the Leader