MP fears leisure centres could close

Kirkby Festival Hall.

Kirkby Festival Hall.

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An MP fears Ashfield District Council could close leisure centres in the district after a consultation on their future was announced this week.

Sherwood MP Mark Spencer has questioned whether leisure centres in Huthwaite Kirkby and Hucknall could face closure to save money.

The MP said he was concerned at leading questions in a consultation online launched this week.

But council chiefs say no decisions have yet been made.

Mr Spencer said: “The survey has questions like “If Edgewood were to close which of the following other centres would you use ?”

“It offers no option to say we don’t want it closed at all and I think will be used to justify a future decision.

“People will pick an alternative option and then the council will use that to be able to say that residents were happy to use other centres.”

In a statement this afternoon Ashfield District Council said: The Council has good leisure provision in the district and the aim of this review is to improve leisure service provision, improve efficiency and offer what is most needed for our residents in the long term.

“The consultation now running means we can capture and listen to the views of the public and service users about the Council’s leisure provisions.

“No decisions have yet been made. Once we have gathered all the responses, there will be a further report to Cabinet later this year to consider the findings of the consultation.

“The Authority would encourage all Ashfield residents and service users to get involved in the consultation.

The facilities at Festival Hall, Selston, Huthwaite and Edgewood are under review in a five-year ‘transformation programme” after the authority identified them as ‘less well performing’.

A statement on its website states: “Hucknall and Lammas Leisure Centres are modern facilities and perform well, with a good mix of facilities and services. The remaining four facilities; Festival Hall, Selston, Huthwaite and Edgewood are much older and do not provide the same scale or range of services and so do not perform as well.

“The evidence and expert opinion suggests looking at those four centres as part of a five year transformation programme including carrying out extensive consultation to identify options to maximise cost effectiveness and protect core services in the long term.

“The Council has previously explored options for Edgewood, Huthwaite and Festival Hall and these are being revisited as part of the transformation.

“Options for Selston will be explored further at a later date.

“Additionally the Council is undertaking a feasibility study to look at sites for a new facility in Kirkby-in-Ashfield.”

Sessions will take place at: Huthwaite Leisure Centre on August 9 from 2-4pm; Festival Hall Leisure Centre on August 10 from 6-8pm; and at Edgewood Leisure Centre, on August 11 from 10am- noon.

Residents can also fill an online questionnaire at http://www2.ashfield-dc.gov.uk/limesurvey/index.php/512574

Mark Spencer MP added; It is crazy to say there is no money for leisure facilities when they have been quite happy to spend £1.4 million on small bins. Where are their priorities?

“Ashfield has some of the worst health figures in the country leisure facilities should be a top priority, not chucking money at bins nobody wants .

“They’ve also been offering free swimming which looks great in the short term but when they say they can’t afford to run leisure centres, how can they justify giving things away for free?

“It’s a short term win at the expense of the long term future for residents and it would be a travesty if the centre were to close.”