Leisure cash row heats up

Centre: Some of the newer equipment at the YMCA
Centre: Some of the newer equipment at the YMCA
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Leisure centre visitors in Garstang are putting pressure on Wyre Council bosses to invest in the town’s YMCA Sports Centre amid accusations they are being ‘snubbed’.

They are furious at Wyre Council’s cold-shouldering of the town facilities after announcing a £5million cash boost for a new state-of-the-art spa, bowling alley and sporting provision in Poulton and Thornton.

Garstang county councillor Sandra Perkins this week said she had received numerous calls from irate locals who feel Garstang has been “jilted” by the council and were ‘fed up with subsidising Poulton and Fleetwood.’

She urged council bosses to take on board comments, adding: “I am in the position of county councillor because the local people voted against a situation they found unacceptable.”

Questions are now being asked of the £2.3m which was set to be invested in the Windsor Road site following an extensive consultation into leisure services across the district by consultants Max Associates in 2012.

Included in proposals was the possibility of building a new swimming pool at the popular leisure centre to replace the ageing facility in Oak Road owned by Lancashire County Council.

At the time, plans were said to be subject to “significant external contributions”.

The Wyre councillor for Garstang, Lady Dulcie Atkins, said she had been continuing to pose the issue with colleagues, but the councillor for Cabus Ward, Roger Brooks, said answers were now needed. and he planned to table a series of questions regarding the council’s plans for Garstang’s leisure services at a cabinet meeting last night. Spokesman for the Save our Sport Centre group Bob Denmark said: “Whether Wyre Council intend to invest in the longer term only they know, but our campaign is continuing to monitor expenditure across the borough and we wont hesitate to resurrect the campaign if there is any hint that the council intends to reduce or remove their support from the people of Garstang.”

Wyre Council has been quick to object to the accusations and a spokesperson confirmed further investment would be made.

A statement read: “Our intention to invest in leisure services across the whole borough, including Garstang, has not changed.

“In fact, it’s in the council’s business plan for 2014/15.

“The development programme at Thornton and Poulton is only the beginning.

This was always a longer-term vision and it doesn’t mean that other areas have been forgotten.”

So far £36,000 has been spent on improving facilities at Garstang Leisure Centre, which included new equipment installed in the gym last Autumn with further re-decoration work at Christmas.

The spokesman added: “At this stage it would be premature of us to say when and exactly what further improvements will be made.”