Kimberley Leisure Centre will not be closing despite worries about the centre's future

The leisure centre in Kimberley faces an uncertain future after the trust which runs seven schools in the town pulled out of the current contract.

Tuesday, 19th May 2020, 9:31 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th May 2020, 3:05 pm
There are concerns of the leisure centre's future
There are concerns of the leisure centre's future

Concerns have been raised about whether the centre will be able to continue operating.

However the CEO of East Midlands Education Trust (EMET) – which owns the building and decided to end the contract, said it was no longer fit for purpose, did not serve Kimberley schools or residents well, and needed to be renegotiated.

He said claims on social media that the trust wanted to close the leisure centre were ‘entirely false’.

Further, he said he had attempted to engage in private commercial negotiations with the council, but that there had been ‘megaphone diplomacy’.

It comes after the leader of Broxtowe Borough Council said he was ‘shocked and disappointed’ by the decision.

The leisure centre is owned by the school but operated by L Leisure (previously Liberty Leisure), a wholly-owned council company.

Rob McDonough is the chief executive officer of EMET, and said: “The contract was a complete and utter mess.

“My trust now has seven Kimbreley schools, so we represent 3,000 children.

“All of these children during the school day need access to this leisure facility, but contractually the access we can get at the moment limits what we need, and believe it or not in some instances we actually pay twice to access our own building.

“We’d reached a point where the agreement which was signed a decade ago for us was no longer fit for purpose.

“Our objective is to work with the borough council to find a new agreement which gives the children in our care much better access to this facility during the school day.

“Outside of the school day, at the evening and weekends, we’re absolutely determined to make sure it’s available to our local community.

“Why on earth would we want to close it to them or not give them access? It’s beyond me.

“It was most unfortunate that some people started to say it was going to close when this was so far from the truth. I was personally quite angry to see those things being said.

“It’s absolutely not the case at all, if anything we are also pretty astonished at what we’ve learned about some of the charges people are being charged to use this facility, so if anything I’m hoping that what comes out of it is not only a much better deal for children in our care, but also a much better deal for people in Kimberley.”

The news was made public by Broxtowe Borough Council on Friday, May 15, but it is understood the coalition-controlled borough council was first notified by EMET on April 23.

Independent councillor Richard Robinson represents the Kimberley ward on Broxtowe Borough Council and said the decision by the trust came ‘completely out of the blue’.

He said: “Obviously should this indeed go ahead – and the current leisure centre in Kimberley does close, this is a massive loss for the area.

“I am hugely disappointed with the attitude of the education trust which has left the council in a hugely difficult position.

“There are however a number of significant possibilities presented now about how we can secure new facilities in the area, which albeit will be in a different format.

“I will be working tirelessly with Kimberley Town Council and members of the public to get the best deal for Kimberley.”

Labour councillor Milan Radulovic is the leader of Broxtowe Borough Council, and represents the Eastwood Hill Top ward.

He said: “The council was shocked and disappointed to receive this notice.

“We will be working with the trust and our leisure company, LLeisure who operate the facility to come to a resolution amicably and consider options for the future.

“Our Leisure and Health Committee will consider this matter on June 10.

“Supporting people to live well is one of the council’s main priorities.

“I want to reassure residents that as part of work to develop our leisure facilities strategy, we will be making sure that leisure provision is maintained, including the prospect of establishing a leisure facility in the north of the borough.”

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