Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Cabinet confirms the abandonment of Camelford Leisure Centre

Despite the pleas of local people, Liberal Democrats and the local Conservative councillor, Cornwall Council's Cabinet this morning voted to abandon Camelford Leisure Centre.

As I noted before, the cross party scrutiny committee had voted by eight to two to recommend that the facility was kept within the leisure trust on a permanent basis. This would cost around £62,500 per year from April 1st, but we were confident that this could be found from elsewhere in the Council's budget.

The decision to pull out of Camelford sparked furious work by the staff there and local community. The staff managed to cut the net subsidy by over £100,000 per year. And they have boosted income so much that the small centre at Camelford is now getting three times as much in membership money as the much larger Wadebridge. The local town and parishes have also committed money and the new friends group will prove a valuable fund-raising and support tool.

The staff and local community have done huge amounts of work - work which has not been undertaken in other areas - but has been given a kick on the teeth as a result.

Today the Cabinet agreed to give a bit more time to the community to come up with an alternative way of managing the centre. This is, of course, a small step in the right direction. But it is most definitely a second best option compared with securing the long term future of the centre through the trust.

Camelford is the only leisure centre being cast adrift. The other facilities to lose funding are being given some huge dowries to secure their future. Jubilee Sea Pool, for example, is getting £2 million of capital works. And just last year, Carn Brea Leisure Centre (which is run by a completely independent trust) was given £500,000.

I see this as the victimisation of Camelford and it comes after the Council effectively pulled out of holding planning meetings in the town as well.

The debates about Cornwall Council's budget are now starting. The Liberal Democrats will be moving an amendment when the final document comes to full council to reinstate Camelford Leisure Centre as a permanent member of the leisure trust.

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