Wiltshire Publications

Issue 471 – New group set up to campaign for leisure facilities

THE Save Westbury Pool committee has disbanded, in favour of setting up a new group to address the future of both the pool and Leighton Recreation Centre.

Wiltshire Council is proposing that both Westbury Swimming Pool and Leighton Recreation Centre should be run under community ownership and public consultation is currently in progress.
As a result, the Save Westbury Pool Committee was disbanded at a meeting earlier this month, a decision which was taken unanimously by those members present. The committee said they felt they had achieved all they could, and that it was now more appropriate to have a committee to address the future of both facilities.
Mike Cuthbert-Murray, who was president of the Save Westbury Pool committee said, “We achieved what we could achieve, bearing in mind what we’d been aiming for, and the time has come that it should be part of a bigger group.”
At a meeting on Tuesday 14th September, it was decided to form a new group, which was due to meet again on Tuesday 28th September. Neil Hawker, chair of Westbury Cricket Club and secretary of the Leighton Sports Association, was nominated to chair the meeting.
At the last meeting of the Westbury Area Board, Cllr Stuart Wheeler, Wiltshire Council cabinet member for leisure, sport, and culture, said the council was not prescribing any particular method or body to take over the facilities, and that it was up to the people of Westbury to put their thoughts forward in the consultation.
Stephen Pyne, a coach at Westbury Swimming Club and member of the former Save Westbury Pool committee said, “I think it is now agreed that a trust with just a swimming pool in would not succeed. The only way a trust can succeed is by combining it with Leighton.”
While the new group hopes to address how the two facilities could be run in the future, those present at the meeting on the 14th September expressed their frustration with a lack of information from Wiltshire Council. Neil Hawker reported that none of the organisations in the Leighton Sports Association had been approached by Wiltshire Council to discuss the future of the recreation centre.
Speaking at the meeting, David Jenkins said, “I think the most important thing here is we that need to get the information on what is actually going on.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen over the next three months. We’re in this great ‘don’t know’ period.”

The future of the town’s leisure facilties

Wiltshire Council is proposing that the town’s leisure facilities should be run under community ownership and a public consultation is currently underway.
Stephen Pyne is one who believes that the town should not bow to the proposals. “Stuart Wheeler said to me, whatever you think of me this is a genuine consultation and we are listening. And the people of Westbury, at the last big meeting said they didn’t want us to do anything until the leisure review came out in October, they didn’t want any negotiating, that’s what they said.”
However, Mike Cuthbert-Murray urged the meeting to start preparing for a community trust. “We’d love Wiltshire Council to carry on funding all the leisure facilities in the town – that’s what we all want,” he said. “However, they’re not mandatory services from Wiltshire Council and with the current cuts going on from government downwards they’re the cherry on the cake and unfortunately with the cuts, the cherry comes off. This is plan B – we move forward when the consultation is done. We have to be ready.”
Under Wiltshire Council’s proposals, a new £3m indoor bowls centre would be installed at Leighton Recreation Centre, and the pool and recreation centre would be refurbished before being transferred to community ownership.
The consultation will run until 29th October. The cabinet will review the outcome of the consultation in December 2010 and full council will consider the financial impact of the proposals in February 2011.
If the town steps forward to run the facilities, the transfer of Westbury Pool to community ownership is set to take place in 2017, while the transfer of Leighton Recreation Centre would take place by 2016, once work on the facilities is completed.