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Powys residents put leisure services at top of their priority list

THE POWYS public has shown more interest in the review of leisure services in the county than any similar council survey – councillors have said.

At a meeting of Powys County Council’s Economic, Residents and Communities scrutiny committee on Monday, October 30 councillors were given an update on the review which has been running since April.

The review considers the provision, usage, running costs, carbon emissions and building conditions of the current leisure provision available to the people of Powys and what it could look like in the future.

It was prompted following concerns that some leisure centres operated by Freedom Leisure on behalf of the council could have closed last winter due to rocketing energy and heating costs.

Cllr Angela Davies

Committee chairwoman Cllr Angela Davies said: “We’ve had a plethora of information from the residents survey.

“We have to bear in mind that our leisure centres are leased to and run by Freedom Leisure, so while it’s really useful and interesting information we’re not clear how it will be used going forward in any decision making process.”

Cllr Bryan Davies of the Independents for Powys group said: “You can tell from the amount of responses we got that it’s the highest thing on the public’s agenda for services we provide.”

He stressed that this survey had garnered more responses than those for winter road gritting and refuse/recycling collections.

Cllr (Angela) Davies added “It far exceeds any other survey the council has ever done as I understand it – clearly it is important to our residents.”

Cllr David Selby

Cabinet member for leisure, Liberal Democrat Cllr David Selby said: “Because of the amount of information it’s taking a long time to come to conclusions.

“Just to reassure this committee no decision had been made we are working on the information ourselves – hopefully by the time of the next meeting of this scrutiny committee we will be much clearer of the next steps.

Back in September, Freedom Leisure the not for profit company who run 13 leisure, sports centres, and swimming pools across Powys and were awarded a 15 year contract in 2015, explained to the committee that their energy bills shot up by £750,000 last year.

This saw them end the year £93,798 over their annual £12 million budget.

This is despite the council giving Freedom Leisure an extra £287,000 to help with energy costs which allowed all leisure centres remain open between January and March.