Running four Dales leisure centres ‘not sustainable,’ council says

Arc Leisure Matlock.
Arc Leisure Matlock.
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Cash-strapped Derbyshire Dales District Council is reviewing its four leisure centres in Matlock, Wirksworth, Bakewell and Ashbourne.

Next Thursday, councillors will consider a report which makes it clear that it is not certain that all four centres will stay within local authority control.

Successive central Government grant cuts - 21 per cent this year - mean the council has to find additional savings of £0.73million in the next five years.

Referring to a recent consultation with councillors, the report states: "Although it was clear most members wished to retain all four leisure centres and the sports development team, given the district council's financial position, this option was considered as not sustainable."

The report suggests the most appropriate options could be to either outsource the four centres and retain sports development in-house or examine the possibility of handing the Bakewell and Wirksworth centres into local community control while retaining Arc Leisure Matlock, Ashbourne leisure centre and the sports development team.

Consultants are studying both options and looking into the possibility of Community Asset Transfers for Bakewell swimming pool and Wirksworth leisure centre.

Councillors are not expected to agree any action at this early stage but consultation will take place throughout the summer ahead of a report to a full meeting of the council towards the end of the year.

Council leader Lewis Rose said: "At this stage we must keep an open mind on the future ownership of our leisure centres and the task right now is to consider the feasibility of the two preferred options. However, we make no apology for continuing to review every single one of our services on a rolling basis to make them as efficient and cost-effective as possible.

"Already we have found new ways of doing things differently - and successfully - sometimes with partners or as shared services.

"The fact is, however, that we are now scraping the barrel in terms of finding further savings that won't impact on the services we provide for the people of the Derbyshire Dales.

"That’s why we have made it very clear that we cannot rule out the possibility of having to make potentially unpopular and radical decisions sometime soon."