Petition to save Cornwall's at-risk leisure centres hits target

Ships and Castles in Falmouth
The council has said that it has no budget for leisure services which are not a statutory requirement. Credit: ITV News

A petition calling for Cornwall's councillors to debate and vote on the possible closure of leisure centres has reached its target of 5,000 signatures.

Independent councillors launched the petition to secure the signatures needed for it to be debated at the next meeting of full council on November 30.

It managed to hit its 5,000 target in less than a week and organisers are now hoping they can reach 7,500 to show the strength of feeling among Cornish residents.

Five leisure centre across the Duchy are at risk of closure after operator GLL said it could no longer run them without financial support.

They are based in Falmouth, Wadebridge, Launceston and Saltash and the hydrotherapy pool in St Austell.

A community interest company has been set up to protect Ships and Castles Leisure Centre in Falmouth. Credit: Google Maps

As well as securing the signatures on the petition, a cross-party group of councillors have also submitted a motion to full council which calls for the decision on the future of leisure centres to be made by all councillors - and not just the Cabinet.

The motion has been proposed by former council leader Julian German and will be seconded by former council chairman Hilary Frank.

It also has support from Loic Rich, leader of the Independent group; Jayne Kirkham, leader of the Labour group; Edwina Hannaford, leader of the Lib Dem group; and Dick Cole, leader of Mebyon Kernow.

Cllr German said: “The closure of leisure centres is an important issue affecting many residents and deserves to be debated by the full council. Thank you to all those who have signed the petition, please continue to do so.”

The leisure centre in Wadebridge is at risk of closing.

Cllr Frank added: “It’s essential that all 87 elected representatives can debate and vote on supporting our leisure centres, which are of key importance to all our residents. It’s not right that only 10 members of the Cabinet have this privilege.”

Andrew Long (MK) said: “Public Health and general fitness is at the forefront of the lives of the people of Cornwall and so it is vital that any decision that could adversely affect health and wellbeing is debated as openly as possible and not just left to a ‘chosen few’ to decide such an important issue.”

And Cllr Kirkham said: “We have all consulted with residents and in Falmouth, certainly, there is great concern about us losing our only public pool.

"The 30 minute drive to the next one excludes a lot of people from Falmouth and makes school swimming lessons very difficult.

"Because so many councillors across the party divide have heard the same on this issue, we wanted to state jointly that we believe the decision should be made democratically by all 87 of us, rather than just the Cabinet.”

Credit: Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporting Service