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Councillors to discuss future of leisure services amid management concerns

07 May 2024 2 minute read
Deeside Leisure Centre in Flintshire. Photo via Google

Liam Randall, local democracy reporter

The future of leisure services is set to be discussed at a meeting of backbench councillors this week, with a variety of options under consideration.

Flintshire Council is currently at loggerheads with Aura Leisure and Libraries Limited, which has managed most leisure centres in the county since 2017, as well as libraries, museums and play areas

It was reported in March that officials were considering withdrawing financial support when the local authority’s latest agreement with the employee-owned company was due to end on March 31.

While a short-term funding deal was later agreed, a leaked report revealed a significant deterioration in relations between the two parties.

Doubt

The report to members of Flintshire’s cabinet created doubt over whether the arrangement will continue when it ends in mid-July after concerns were raised over the conduct of senior figures at Aura.

A special meeting of the council’s education, youth and culture scrutiny committee is now being held on Friday (May 10, 2024) to consider the future running of services currently provided by the charitable organisation.

The meeting is set to be held in private, with members of the press and public excluded.

Exempt

A note attached to the report states: “The following item is considered to be exempt by virtue of Paragraph(s) 14 of Part 4 of Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972.

“The public interest in withholding the information outweighs the interest in disclosing it until such time as the contract has been awarded.”

The relevant paragraph of the legislation refers to information relating to financial or business affairs.

The report presented to cabinet members in April outlined several options for the future running of services, including bringing them back in-house or finding an alternative delivery model.

Other possibilities could see the authority going out to tender to find a new service provider or coming to a fresh agreement with Aura.


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