Council U-turn to save Edgewood Leisure Centre

Edgewood Leisure Centre in Hucknall
Edgewood Leisure Centre in Hucknall

Ashfield council says there are no plans “to close or make changes” to how Edgewood Leisure Centre in Hucknall is run.

The decision comes after the minutes of a Labour Group meeting, in which councillors voted to “defer” a decision on the centre’s future, but to investigate the possibility of moving swimming lessons to Hucknall Leisure Centre, were leaked to the press.

Today Ashfield proposed to save Edgewood and want to “invite community groups or other interested parties to submit a sustainable business plan” for Huthwaite Leisure Centre.

Portfolio holder for Health and Wellbeing, coun Jim Aspinall said: “This proposal will help us protect the major centres while offering community groups and others the chance to identify a different business model for Huthwaite.”

A recent local government Financial Settlement from central government signalled “further funding cuts for local councils” which would add to “the huge financial challenges already faced and means that the Council has to re-visit its budget.”

Leader of the Council, Cheryl Butler said: “No extra money has been provided by Government to tackle shortfalls in its social care funding and instead cuts are being made to the new homes bonus scheme, which councils like ADC rely on to fund their services.

“It is not possible to continue on in the same way as before. We are facing more and more cuts and this means we have to now consider the impact of these latest funding cuts as we investigate new ways of working and generate much-needed income to try and bridge this gap and continue to provide quality services our residents rely on.

“There is no doubt that we now face some very, very difficult decisions. District Councils that rely on New Homes Bonus to fund services are especially hard hit by the latest announcements and it a real possibility that services could soon be under threat.”

A meeting on January will consider the proposals for Edgewood and seek cabinet approval to “invite community groups or other interested parties to submit a sustainable business plan” to run Huthwaite Leisure Centre, which currently costs £79,930 each year to manage.

Conservative leader Ben Bradley said: “The council can’t seem to make their mind up what is going on. Why won’t they discuss this with us openly? They claim provisions at Edgewood won’t change and in the same paragraph say that they will be reviewing swimming provisions and looking to centralise at the three main leisure centres, which would mean reduced services at Edgewood. There is no logic or continuity to what they are saying, the only thing that is clear is that Labour’s leadership aren’t capable of running this council.”

At a December 19 meeting, Labour councillors voted to close Huthwaite Leisure Centre and transfer all services to Lammas in Sutton.

Conservative coun Phillip Rostance said: “The lack of honesty and openness here is astounding. In public the Labour leadership are saying they will listen to people and no decisions have been made, yet behind closed doors they actually made these decisions almost a month ago with no discussion with anybody outside of their group.”

Conservative MP Mark Spencer said: “How on earth can they justify nearly £2m on smaller waste bins and new glass bins when they are closing down leisure centres in some of the most deprived areas of our communities?”