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Leisure centre cutbacks row
THE former chairman of Worcester Swimming Club has criticised the city council for closing a leisure centre on Fridays – saying it sends out the wrong message about obesity.
Neil Monkhouse said the reduction in opening hours at Nunnery Wood Sports Complex was a massive blow.
He turned up at a meeting of the council’s Labour cabinet to say more public cash should be poured into tackling obesity.
Since October, the centre has been shut all day on Fridays, and opens for four hours fewer on Saturdays.
Mr Monkhouse has also been campaigning in recent months for Worcester’s new proposed swimming pool at Perdiswell to have eight lanes, rather than six.
As your Worcester News revealed in October, an eight-lane version has been put on the backburner because of fears over the estimated £13.5 million cost.
Mr Monkhouse said: “The issue is larger than just swimming, it’s about leisure as a whole. Obesity is costing Worcestershire £140 million every year. Surely we should be fighting this.”
He was told he should address his concerns to other bodies who can tackle obesity with a bigger budget, such as the county council.
The council says it has reduced its budgeted income from sports centres in 2014/15, mainly because over the last three months business was down 15 per cent year on year, about £64,000 less cash.
Councillor Adrian Gregson, the leader, said: “You’ll no doubt establish what the position is during the budget process.
“There are no cuts of £125,000 planned, as has been claimed, but there is a projected shortfall on predicted income which will require a subsidy.
“If your concerns over obesity were spread wider than this room, it would go some way to solving the problem.”
As we revealed last week, discussions about passing control of St John’s Sports Centre and Nunnery Wood Sports Complex to a trust have collapsed.
Wychavon Leisure Trust, which operates several similar facilities around Worcestershire, wanted to take them over in a deal aimed at saving £160,000 over two years.
But both parties said it would no longer be a viable aim, and the council has now retained them in-house.