The Leader of Amber Valley Borough Council has written an open letter to the private company that runs Belper Leisure Centre offering to take it back to fix the issues, and to run it for the future benefit of the community and local schools.
The offer came as the Leader, Councillor Stuart Bradford, responded to a report at the last Council meeting about negotiations with the company about maintaining complementary facilities to support the Council's future leisure priorities for people in Belper and the surrounding areas.
The report highlighted the current shortfall of sufficient leisure facilities in Belper compared with other towns in the Borough. It also explored the current limitations of the existing Centre as a facility for all of the community, and the challenges that the aging Centre faces in financing improvements itself.
The Council currently funds community use of the Centre through a £190,000 annual grant.
Councillor Stuart Bradford added: "The offer to take back the Centre received cross party support, and is a clear indication that we are determined to improve leisure facilities in Belper. I would urge those in a position to influence that prospect, to work with us for the benefit of the whole community."
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Notes to editors
Open letter to the Chairman of the Board of Belper Leisure Centre Limited.
Following some discussion and numerous exchanges of correspondence between our respective organisations over recent months, culminating in your Board communicating to us their final position relating to the provision of community leisure facilities in the Belper area as:
a) you cannot support 'Dry-Side' facilities to complement the Councils intended provision of new leisure facilities at the Field Lane Belper, site
b) if the council invested £3.3 million in your option 5 proposal document which was also promoted by your Managers article reported in the Belper News of 28 September, then this would enable the delivery of improved leisure for the future and be more cost effective for the Council.
Given that you have been unable to provide financial details to support any such investment, which I believe is a pre-requisite for any investors - particularly when considering public funds I regret that no further progress on that aspect can be made. Therefore the whole aspect of Belper Leisure Centre's current provision was the subject of discussion at the Amber Valley Council meeting on Wednesday 2 November where members were fully appraised of your current position and our interpretation of the future challenges facing Belper Leisure Centre Limited to which we currently subscribe £190,000 of public money annually.
At that point, I recounted the history of the Leisure Centre in that it was established, paid for by the Borough Council in partnership with Derbyshire County Council and run by the Borough Council from 1974. Throughout the intervening years millions of pounds of public money have subsidised the centre to benefit the community.
In bringing the debate to a close, I made a public offer to you and your Board, which received cross party support and was unanimously supported by all Members.
To reiterate, the offer was:
"If the Board wished to hand back the Belper Leisure Centre to Amber Valley Borough Council we would fix the issues and run the centre for the future benefit of the community and local schools."
If that statement is in any way attractive please contact me accordingly.
Councillor Stuart Bradford. Leader, Amber Valley Borough Council.