'It would be tragic if it closed' - company set up to save Falmouth's only public pool


A community interest company has been set up to protect one of Cornwall's at-risk leisure centres.

Pendennis Leisure has been created in response to the possible closure of Ships & Castles in Falmouth.

The leisure centre is one of five across the Duchy that could close after operator GLL said it could no longer run them without financial support.

The others are in Wadebridge, Launceston and Saltash and the hydrotherapy pool in St Austell.

Ben Leach, who has played a key part in setting up Pendennis Leisure, said the leisure centre is vital for the local community.

“We have realised that the only way for Falmouth and Penryn and the surrounding areas to keep a public pool and leisure facilities and save the headland from private housing or hotel development would be to keep Ships & Castles running," he said.

Wadebridge Leisure Centre is one of those at risk of closing.

“We are not saying that Ships & Castles is perfect but we need to get behind the efforts to save it before we can start to address any issues.

“The real threat is that Cornwall Council could sell it for millions of pounds and huge luxury homes would go up there and the headland would be lost forever.

“Some people really want to protect the pool, others want to protect the headland but we need to do both.”

Ben Leach co-founded Pendennis Leisure to save Ships & Castles and stop the site from being developed on. Credit: ITV West Country

He admitted the time schedule was tight but said he hoped a business case could be put before Cornwall Council in December.

The authority has previously said it does not have the budget to maintain the leisure centres - but would consider working with community groups to keep them open.

Mr Leach added: “Everybody is behind the pool and wants to keep it open and doesn’t want to see private housing built there.

"There has been such a groundswell of support in the local community I am hopeful we can find a solution.”

Children enjoy Ships & Castles because of the fun pool features, like the flume, jacuzzi and River Run. Credit: ITV West Country

In the autumn, Cornwall Council ran a public consultation to gage the opinion of communities across the county. More than 4,700 people took part and the council is now analysing the responses and reviewing the feedback.

On 15 December, the Council's Cabinet will vote on whether to financially support the leisure centres any further. A spokesperson for the Council said: "We would like to thank residents for taking the time to respond to the consultation on the future of leisure services.

“As part of the consultation process the Council has invited local groups and organisations with ideas about how to deliver financially sustainable leisure services to come forward and work alongside the Council and GLL to develop a new set of proposals about our leisure offering.

GLL runs 13 leisure centres in Cornwall, including Saltash which is also at risk of closing. Credit: ITV West Country

“We are really pleased with the level of interest from local communities and are actively working with several groups to find alternative solutions.  

“This work will continue and viable expressions of interest will be presented to Cabinet on December 15.”

Pendennis Leisure is holding a community event at 1pm on 21 November.

Full details can be found on the Pendennis Leisure Facebook page.