Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Trust to save Camelford Leisure and Bude Sea Pool?

Great news for the future of Camelford Leisure Centre and Bude Sea Pool as Cornwall Council's Cabinet has agreed that both will be kept within Cornwall's Leisure Service for the time-being.

The future of both facilities - much loved in their local communities - had been in doubt after last year's 'Emergency Budget' decided to stop funding them. Local groups have been set up to try to secure their future but they face a race against time as tide-over money from the Council is set to run out soon.

The reason for the renewed optimism is the setting up of a trust to run leisure services across Cornwall. Because leisure facilities are not a statutory service (ie Cornwall Council does not need to provide any), they are an easy target for budget cuts. Moving to a trust model would save around £1 million each year because they would not need to pay business rates and they would also not be liable for VAT.

On the downside, the control that the council (and councillors) over the service would be a lot less, but the contract would be written in such a way as to make sure that venues and cost bands would be safe.

I pressed for the two 'cast adrift' facilities to be kept within the new Trust and officers have promised to do so for the time being. It's not a cast-iron guarantee. There may be cost pressures in the future which mean that these facilities cannot be kept on. But at the very least this buys more time for the community groups set up to save them and I will be trying to make sure that they remain part of the new Trust for the foreseeable future.

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