New secrecy row hits sports centre debate

PHOTO. KEVIN McGUINNESS       'Kate Gillett on the treadmill at Garstang Leisure Centre watched by, from left, Sammie Stuart, Michael Duke, Mike O'Byrne, Ina Mirza, Dave Sweetman, Chris Parsonage, Lynn Green and Margaret O'Donohue
PHOTO. KEVIN McGUINNESS 'Kate Gillett on the treadmill at Garstang Leisure Centre watched by, from left, Sammie Stuart, Michael Duke, Mike O'Byrne, Ina Mirza, Dave Sweetman, Chris Parsonage, Lynn Green and Margaret O'Donohue
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A SECOND secrecy row has broken out over the consultation into the future of Garstang Leisure Centre, which appears to be facing an uncertain future.

The council has already landed itself in a rumpus after The Courier revealed a private report, costing £20,000, recommended the closure of the centre.

That was followed by different council sources giving different slants on the status of the original document, some saying it would not be used in the latest review, others saying parts of it would be!

The latest twist has erupted with the council refusing to publish the terms of reference given to Max Associates, the company which is to carry out the latest review - at a cost of £30,000.

Borough leisure boss Coun Lynne Bowen told a full council meeting that the terms of reference for the latest report, to be carried out by Max Associates, would not be published.

But The Courier can reveal they have already been made public by council leader Coun Peter Gibson who sent them to “Save our Leisure Centre” campaigner Mr Ray Hesketh of Garstang.

Mr Hesketh said he was surprised by the latest developments in the leisure centre debate.

He asked: “There is nothing commercially confidential about terms of reference. Wyre claims one of its values is openness so what have they to hide?”

He confirmed he had been sent a copy of the terms of reference by Coun Gibson during an email correspodence with the borough.

Mr Hesketh asked: “Does this then look like Wyre Council had already decided to close the facility but need a consultant’s report to say it, so that it didn’t look like they came up with the idea ... but of course I may be well off the mark with my observations.”

Mr Hesketh added he was concerned the same kind of ‘consultation’ used over the closure of Claughton household waste centre was being used over the future of the Garstang leisure centre.

The county’s recent consultation with Garstang residents has been attacked as a sham after residents’ views were ignored by the authority.

Asked for its response to Mr Hesketh’s concerns a Wyre Council spokesman said: “Rather than focus on remits and reports and repeatedly covering old ground, we are looking to the future. Our priorities are to improve leisure services for residents and provide value for money to the tax payer, which is what the Max Associates review will help us to achieve. We have already been through this process with our waste service and are currently doing the same with our street cleansing and tourism services to ensure we deliver improved and cost effective services.”

* More on the Wyre leisure review in next week’s Courier.