Leisure centre axe still under discussion

Plans to close leisure centres in South Ribble are still on the agenda, despite opposition from within the ruling Tory group, the Post can reveal.
Photo: David Hurst
Leyland Leisure CentrePhoto: David Hurst
Leyland Leisure Centre
Photo: David Hurst Leyland Leisure Centre

Options to close Leyland, Penwortham and Bamber Bridge Leisure Centres and replace them with a multi-million pound new facility in Farington Moss, were discussed at a presentation to the ruling Tory group last week.

The matter was due to be presented at a cabinet meeting today, seeking authorisation for a full business case and procurement options. But this was voted down by group members. A source close to the Tories said: “A lot of councillors were unhappy with the options presented and want the council to look at costs for refurbishing the centres we already have.”

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Costings in the report show closing all three and replacing them with a new facility at Farington Moss would be the most financially advantageous for the council, with savings estimated at £771,000 after five years.

Independent Leyland Coun Claire Hamilton said: “A lot of residents have told me they are concerned about transport links to the new proposed site. I’m worried that this is being driven by a land opportunity instead of what residents want.”

She also raised concerns that a £14.5m budget for the scheme would not be enough.

Labour Coun Matthew Tomlinson said: “The ruling group have been discussing this for quite some time and despite their reassurances there are no firm plans, it feels as though somewhere there’s a secret plan we’re not able to see.”

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Elaine Fitchie, president of Leyland Barracudas ASC, raised concerns community groups might struggle as a result of changes to current arrangements.

Coun Phil Smith, who is in charge of South Ribble Council’s leisure services, was unavailable for comment.