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WC blundering puts leisure centres at risk

March 3, 2020 9:01 PM

In 2015 Wiltshire Council's 'cabinet' decided to bring all its leisure centres (LCs) back in house in 2018 when the contract with Places for People Leisure Ltd (PfP) ended.

In 2017 they noticed that the work required to do that hadn't happened, so they 'paused' the decision and gave PfP three more years.

That extended the contract to 2021 but now in 2020 WC again finds itself almost totally unprepared for the change, with no option for legal reasons of another contract extension.

In an attempt to make something happen consultants have been appointed to review WC's leisure provision, and they're due to make their recommendations this month.

If no decisions are made by the end of March 2021 the ten leisure centres run by PfP would revert to Wiltshire Council, joining the ten already managed by the council.

A report to the March 4th Environment Committee ominously states, "It is essential that the council understands not only the leisure facility requirements for the future but has a clear purpose for providing broader sport and physical activity opportunities for and with the community that meet the demographic changes and health, wellbeing and social needs of individuals and communities. The council will also have to determine a clear timeline for any recommended outcomes that impact on the facility stock."

In a previous impact on the facility stock Christie Miller sports centre in Melksham closed in 2018.

The report goes on to say, "It is important that the council understands the future number of facilities that it wishes to operate prior to analysing and testing which management model is appropriate to meet the needs of the community and also provide the most financially sound prospect for the council to ensure the long-term sustainability of the facilities."

The consideration of how to get out of the mess, probably involving an interim procurement process, will be debated in secret.

Environment Committee agenda. (See supplement)