Fear for fees and staff amid leisure centre privatisation plan

151351-01 Pic Mick Young'17/10/2015 PPP-151017-184504006
151351-01 Pic Mick Young'17/10/2015 PPP-151017-184504006

Prices and opening times at Abbey Fields have come into question after councillors agreed to look at outsourcing management of its sports sites amid £12million of upgrades.

Warwick District Council’s executive agreed to fund major improvements to its leisure and sports sites in Warwick and Leamington - with changes in ‘Kenilworth yet to be agreed.

Members also voted in favour of a private company taking over running of all three centres from May 2017 in what has led to worry over services.

Labour’s shadow portfolio holder Cllr Kristie Naimo said: “We are concerned that a private contractor will increase membership fees and not provide adequate staff contracts.

“The public may wonder why we would invest in improving our facilities only to hand most of the future profits over to a private contractor.

“The Conservative executive seem committed to privatising our leisure services whatever the numbers say. “

Councillors have approved a draft contract which stipulates minimum open hours and pricing guidelines.

And council leader Andrew Mobbs, assured it was not “a council sell off”. “The decision to seek an external partner was not taken lightly,” he said.

“It would be remiss of the council, when the financial pressures are greater than ever on discretionary services, not to offer this opportunity to other operators.

“This should not be seen as selling off council services, it is about finding a company that we can work in partnership with to provide high quality, accessible services.”

Kenilworth was initially in line for a new sports centre and swimming pool to bring facilities at Abbey Fields and Castle Farm onto a single site.

But the build is now in question with the Local Plan still not finalised, and sports sites being improved at the nearby University of Warwick

A council planning report read: “It would be premature to recommend an investment programme for the Kenilworth facilities until the Local Plan has been adopted and impact of development in neighbouring areas confirmed.”