Jobs at risk at leisure centres, councillor says

The man in charge of Swindon's leisure centres admitted jobs could be lost if private companies start running them.

The borough council said it could no longer afford to keep them all open and contracts to run the sites were currently being put out to tender.

Conservative Keith Williams said the move would protect the facilities but admitted it was "always a risk".

Labour councillor Junab Ali said the council had to assert maximum pressure to get the "best deal" for the centres.

"It is ironic as the whole idea was to give it to a third party on a 99-year lease so jobs and facilities were protected for the public," the shadow spokesperson for leisure, libraries and culture added.

Mr Williams said all of the current staff would be "transferred over" to the other organisations once a deal had been signed.

"They will then be employed by the other organisations. They will need to operate things as they see fit," he added.

Mr Williams said the borough was currently spending £3.1m per year in support of leisure and culture facilities.

"We've also got a backlog of £4m to £6m. That's something that we can't afford to sustain going forward," he added.

"Leisure unfortunately is not a statutory service that the council has to provide.

"So, when it comes to areas like adult social care and children's' services that need extra support, it's going to be the non-statutory services like leisure that get cut."

In 2010 Wiltshire Council turned over control of leisure centres in Corsham, Downton, Pewsey, Tisbury, Westbury and Royal Wootton Bassett, as well as Westbury and Bradford-on-Avon swimming pools, to community groups and trusts.

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