Leisure centres in Preston could be sold off amid major council cuts

Youngsters at Fulwood Leisure Centre
Youngsters at Fulwood Leisure Centre
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Leisure centres in Preston could be sold off as the authority plans to make yet more major cuts to council services.

“Radical changes” are being proposed in an emergency budget, drafted to try to tackle massive reductions in government funding to Preston Council.

Bosses are investigating the potential for “alternative service delivery providers” for West View and Fulwood leisure centres, following swingeing cuts already made by Town Hall leaders.

Coun Martyn Rawlinson, cabinet member for resources at Preston Council, said: “It’s no secret that we are looking for another provider for the leisure centres.

“If the cost can be taken from our books to another provider then obviously that saves us money, but we want the leisure centres to continue so it’s not a case of just giving them to anybody.

“Like we did with the bus station and the Guild Hall, we’ve given them to people who want to keep them going and that’s a possibility for the leisure centres.

“Discussions are ongoing.”

Coun Rawlinson insisted: “We don’t privatise things”, and said: “The nearest we’ve got to privatising anything is the Guild Hall, which we did hand to the private sector but it was a local entrepreneur.

“We are not into handing public services over to corporations and we don’t intend to do that.”

One of the proposals in the emergency budget said: “Taking into consideration the primary principles set by Budget Working Group, officers are investigating the potential for alternative service delivery providers for Leisure Services and options for shared services.”

Lorraine Norris, Preston Council’s chief executive, said: “At the moment, all options are being considered.

“We have significant savings to make and to achieve this we have to take time to seriously consider how we move forward and if there are alternative ways of working and providing services that will enable us to make that saving.

“Our elected councillors will make the final decisions, but officers are working closely with them to ensure they have all the necessary information.”