Thursday, 4 August 2011

Camelford Leisure Centre and Bude Sea Pool to be cast off? - UPDATED

Cornwall Council is setting up a new leisure trust to take over council run leisure facilities. The benefits of such a change would be to avoid having to pay VAT or business rates. The Council would still retain almost the same amount of control over the level of services and all existing facilities would remain open.

So far, so good.

But what about the two facilities that had been previously cast adrift by the Council for budgetary reasons - Camelford Leisure Centre and Bude Sea Pool? Back when the decision to go ahead with a trust was taken, I secured an agreement that these two facilities would be included in the new trust, at least at the outset.

In both Bude and Camelford, local groups have been set up to try to take over and save the facilities. I very much hope that both will succeed and are able to take over their centre to secure it for the long term. But in order to give them the time and space to do so, we need to secure the short-term future and this means the trust taking over the management. But now rumours are circulating that this might not happen. I've written to the Council asking for urgent clarification.

UPDATE - I'm very glad to have received reassurances from the Council's Director of Communities that the rumours are not true and that Bude Sea Pool and Camelford Leisure Centre will be transferred to the new trust. That's not to say that there are no question marks over their future, but at least any short-term concerns appear to have been sorted.

1 comment:

Hooligween said...

That's only the tip of the iceberg, Alex.
It's been made clear to us (the Friends of Bude Sea Pool) that if the running costs and responsibility for the Sea Pool aren't taken on by the local community then it'll shut next year, and probably be demolished to 'make it safe.'

The Sea Pool is open access from the beach and free to use. Most visitors think they pay for it by paying to park in the beach car parks; most local businesses think they pay for it in their business rates, and most local home owners think they pay for it in their council tax.

But under 'localism', a volunteer charity community group will have to generate between £30,000 and £50,000 each year to keep it open in future -- wastefully duplicating infrastructure and systems, losing expertise, and reinventing a few wheels in the process.

The Friends of Bude Sea Pool ARE prepared to stand up and from 2012 accept responsibility for what is an important tourist attraction, a benefit to the wider community, a source of local employment and an historic 1930s construction.

It seems ridiculous that we have to do this, however. The Leisure Services dept of Cornwall Council actively supports events like the Big Cornwall Swim, a one-off event which gave 175 people access to a reservoir, yet it won't pay to life-guard Bude's sea pool which provides safe swimming for that many people *every day* during the summer season.

Worse yet... if Bude's sea pool were to close, then all the vulnerable swimmers who normally use it would be forced into the sea, in turn requiring more life-guards to be stationed on the beach. So there would be no cost saving whatsoever.

This is all just political paper-shuffling; budget-fudging of the worst order.

Am I ticked off about it? You bet.
Am I doing something about it? Of course.
The Sea Pool is too valuable to allow it to fall by the wayside due to political ineptitude.

Rowena Hoseason / founder member, FoBSP.