Following the decision at the last meeting of the Cabinet to defer the item on the Ships and Castles leisure centre, Adam Paynter, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Resources, asked officers to re-examine the condition of the building to assess the scale of the works required to address the immediate health and safety issues.
Having discussed matters with local members, the authority has now agreed that, whilst the Council had originally intended to take a detailed report on the potential options for the future of the centre to the next meeting of the Resources Policy Advisory Committee, the information received from officers showed that some works need to be carried out urgently to enable the building to continue to remain open.
“As a result I have agreed to authorise the spending of up to £750,000 to carry out these works” said Mr Paynter. “£427, 000 of this sum will come from the balance of the £3.9m allocated for health and safety works on all Council owned leisure centres, with an additional £323,000 allocated from the £1.3m underspend identified in last year’s Council budget.
“Whilst the budget has been approved, I have asked officers to closely scrutinise the contractor’s proposals to ensure value for money at every stage of the project”.
Local Cornwall Councillor Geoffrey Evans has welcomed the decision to carry out the works. “I am delighted that the funds have been found to keep the Ships and Castles centre open” he said. “It is a valuable community resource and it is important that we address the significant issues affecting this centre.”
The centre will have to be temporarily closed while some elements of the works are carried out but the Council will work with Tempus to schedule closures to have minimum impact on customers.
“Over the past 10 months the Council has carried out works at all the other Council run leisure centres to ensure that they comply with the required health and safety standards “ said Mr Paynter. “This will help to ensure that they remain open whilst we implement the Leisure Resources Strategy approved by Members earlier this year.
“The works which will be carried out at Ships and Castles mean that this building will be improved to the same standard as the other leisure centres in terms of health and safety compliance so it can be included as part of this process rather than being considered separately. The works will not address the non-health and safety issues.
“Our aim is to ensure that Cornwall’s leisure centres continue to operate as leisure centres and that a sustainable future is secured through the implementation of the leisure strategy. We are aware of the importance of the centres to Cornwall but are striving to find a way for the centres to be sustained without ongoing subsidy from the Council. The amount of investment needed in the centres in the medium/ long term is considerable and the Council is looking to secure investment from leisure operators through a tender process.”