28th Oct, 2016

Leisure centres privatisation plans to be reconsidered

Ian Hughes 4th Jan, 2016 Updated: 3 hours ago

CONTROVERSIAL plans which could see the running of leisure centres in Warwick and Leamington privatised are set to be reconsidered next week.

Anger quickly sparked at plans to farm out the day to day operation of the St Nicholas Park and Newbold Comyn centres to outside contactors as part of £12million revamp plans. Both centres are currently run in house by Warwick District Council.

The Conservative run authority’s Executive gave the green light in November for the investment but there was an immediate outcry from the Labour group over the possibility of privatisation.

Labour members launched a petition and the 2,500 signature document will be handed to the Executive when it meets on Wednesday (January 13) to review the decision after it was referred back by the council’s own overview and scrutiny committee.

Warwick and Leamington Labour Party chair Jerry Weber said: “In less than a month, we persuaded over 2,500 people that there was a case to be made for looking at the management of the service looking at alternative arrangements that would mean that the council would have full control of this vital service.

“Leisure centres will play a crucial role in supporting residents in their pursuit of healthy activity. We have been told that the council will “retain control over pricing to a greater or lesser extent.” Which will be greater and which will be lesser?”

Council leader Andrew Mobbs previously told the Observer the decision to bring in outside management had not been taken lightly.

He said while the in-house team had delivered a “professional and well-respected” service over the past 30 years, current financial pressures meant the council had to look at other options.

The planned refurbishment and improvement programme will include the creation of new health and fitness and changing facilities, upgraded reception areas in both centres, and a new four court sports hall at Newbold Comyn.