Closure of Cornwall leisure centres to be decided by cabinet

The future of at-risk leisure centres in Cornwall will be decided by Cornwall Council's cabinet.

On 30 November, a bid to change the vote into a full council decision was turned down by 42 votes to 32.

Five leisure centres are at risk of closing in Wadebridge, Launceston, Saltash, Falmouth and the hydrotherapy pool in St Austell.

Earlier this year, operating company GLL asked Cornwall Council for financial support so it could keep the centres open.

But the council did not approve any further funding.

Instead, it launched a public consultation - which 4,700 people responded to.

The cabinet says it will use these answers to inform their decision on the future of the leisure centres.

Children from Wadebridge attended to protest in support of their local leisure centre. Credit: ITV West Country

On November 30, around one hundred people protested outside New Country Hall in Truro ahead of the council meeting.

Many children came along to show councillors how much the leisure centres mean to them.

One said: "Leisure centres are just brilliant and some children may not have that advantage in other places around the world.

Another added: "If people don't have a pool to learn to swim in, they could drown."

Parents do not want to see the local leisure centres go either as they provide an essential wellbeing source for their children.

Kristina Glibbery said: "There are loads of programmes that they [Wadebridge] could run during the summer to help offset the costs.

"I really think we should be looking at solutions to keep them open. Not just 'we don't have any money, we're going to close'."

Councillor Richard Pears says the cabinet will consider 'every solution'. Credit: ITV West Country

Earlier this month, more than 5000 people signed a petition launched by independent councillors to turn the crucial decision into a full council vote.

But that notion was rejected by the leader of the council, who said it was not legally possible.

On 15 December, 10 Conservative cabinet members will vote on whether to close or financially support the leisure centres.

Councillor Richard Pears, cabinet member for Customer and Leisure Services, said: "We are talking to everyone we possibly can to try and find solutions, to take these pools forward.

"We really want to save our pools. Nobody wants to close a pool."

Ben Leach founded Pendennis Leisure to save Falmouth's Ships and Castles. Credit: ITV West Country

Ben Leach set up a community interest company to protect Falmouth's Ships and Castles.

He believes Pendennis Leisure, Cornwall Council and GLL can work together to find a solution, but more funding is needed: "We need a subsidy to continue to be provided by Cornwall Council. Covid has been really difficult and they [GLL] need some investment and we need to bring the good will back.

"Then over time, we can change service offering and introduce new facilities to make it much better."