Protest planned against leisure centre closures in Cornwall
A protest will be held next week against the possibility of five leisure facilities in Cornwall being closed down.
Campaigners from across Cornwall will gather outside New County Hall in Truro next week in a bid to encourage Cornwall councillors to support their bid to save the centres which are under threat.
Cornwall Council is currently carrying out public consultation on the future of Ships & Castles in Falmouth; leisure centres in Launceston, Wadebridge and Saltash; and the hydrotherapy pool in St Austell after operator GLL said it could no longer run them.
The forced closure of leisure centres during the covid lockdown has left operators across the country facing severe financial pressures.
GLL, which has a contract with Cornwall Council to operate the majority of leisure centres in Cornwall, has named the five facilities as those it no longer wants to run.
Cornwall Council says that it has made no decision yet on the future of the leisure centres but said that it has no budget for leisure services and that it is not a statutory service.
However campaigners are concerned that the loss of leisure centres and their swimming pools would have a major impact on the health and wellbeing of local people and also impact schools ability to provide swimming lessons for children.
The council has said that it is willing to consider any alternative options for the centres – including allowing them to be run by community groups or town and parish councils – but there are concerns that this would be costly and requires specialist skills.
Amanda Pennington, Mayor of Wadebridge, is supporting the protest at New County Hall but will be unable to attend as she is currently self-isolating due to covid.
She said: “It is just an absolute mess. We need these facilities for the health of people in this area and also to help our children to swim. They are surrounded by water, they need to be able to swim.
“The knock on impact on health and wellbeing will cost the health service more in the long run. It is imperative that people stay fit and healthy as it will cost taxpayers more and will have an impact on the council and health budgets.”
Amanda has launched a petition calling on the government to make leisure services a statutory service which has to be provided by local councils and to provide sufficient funding to do so.
She said that this would protect leisure centres from being closed and also ensure sufficient facilities are provided for schools to give children swimming lessons – which is required under the school curriculum.
Campaigners from all the areas affected by the proposed closures have been invited to the protest in Truro which will take place on Tuesday ahead of a meeting of the council’s customer and support services overview and scrutiny committee.