Council’s Scrutiny report recommends new leisure facilities in Pontefract Park
A working group asked to scrutinise the Council’s recent Leisure Review has said that the consultation carried out around it was robust and has recommended a modern new leisure centre in Pontefract Park.
The report of the Regeneration and Economic Growth Overview and Scrutiny Committee, meeting on December 1, suggests that the Council should replace the two swimming pools in Pontefract and Castleford with a single new leisure facility in the park, which would include two pools and dryside activities.
It also recommends that the Council should invest in dryside leisure facilities at Knottingley and seek other regeneration and leisure opportunities for the town to complement these facilities. The pool at Knottingley Sports Centre was found to be in a poor state of repair and keeping it open would not be the best use of limited resources, but the report recommends that no final decision is taken on the pool until all options have been fully explored.
The report from the Overview and Scrutiny Committee will be presented to the Council's Cabinet on December 23. A Cabinet report will follow before a final decision is taken.
Cllr Graham Isherwood, chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, said: "We set out to examine how leisure facilities could match the aspirations of the people of this district and meet future needs - and soon realised it is not always the case that more is best.
"We use the Sun Lane leisure centre in Wakefield as a model, looked at facilities in the Five Towns and there was just no comparison – people in the Five Towns deserve something as good as Sun Lane and this is what we are recommending in our report."
"We analysed the process of the Council's review of leisure provision, including how this review was communicated to residents, and we are satisfied.
"We have also looked at the report prepared by Deloitte on local leisure facilities and then focused our attention on providing sustainable facilities for the district and looking at development opportunities, rather than retaining old swimming pools which cost a fortune to maintain.
"We have spent a lot of time on this report and look forward to Cabinet taking our work and recommendations into consideration when they make their decision about leisure services in the district."
The Cabinet asked the Scrutiny Committee to look into the Leisure Review, specifically including the question of whether swimming pools at Pontefract, Castleford and Knottingley should remain open if budget considerations allow this.
The Scrutiny Committee looked carefully at the report by consultants Deloitte, commissioned by the council, which comprehensively examined the options for leisure provision in the district, including estimates of costs to repair and maintain the existing swimming pools, analysing travel times for leisure centre users, the potential costs of possible locations – including the remediation of contaminated land – and the best ways to meet demand for leisure activities from people right across the district.
The report states that the group agrees with the conclusions and detail of the Deloitte report.
The Committee's report also states that the consultation carried out about the Leisure Review was thorough and that it "clearly and consistently" communicated the review to people across the district.
The report to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee on December 1 will be published on the Council's website at www.wakefield.gov.uk/councilmeetings by the end of the working day on November 21.