£2.8 million loan for leisure centre facelift

NEWS: News.
NEWS: News.

Plans to lend leisure bosses £2.8 million of public cash to renovate one of Doncaster’s oldest leisure centres look set to go ahead.

Councillors who had raised concerns that the taxpayer could be left to foot the bill have conceded the scheme will now go ahead after an all-party committee decided against asking Mayor Ros Jones to think again.

Councillors were warned that if nothing was done to get the borough’s leisure centres making a profit, the borough could be left with only three of them in five years’ time.

A decision was taken last month by Doncaster Council cabinet to provide the loan to Doncaster Culture and Leisure Trust to invest in Adwick Leisure Centre to increase revenue and usage of the facility, which dates from the 1970s, but the decision was ‘called in’ by a group of opposition councillors who wanted the council’s overview and scrutiny management committee to look at it again.

Five councillors had requested the hearing because they were concerned that the financial resources of DCLT may not be robust enough to enable them to repay the loan when they are already being subsidised.

After the hearing, Coun Martin Williams and Coun Jonathan Wood, who had been among five councillors who had asked for the call in, accepted the plans would now go ahead. Coun Wood said: “This effectively gives it the green light.”

The scheme would include the expansion of the gym at the leisure centre, the construction of an eight-

lane tenpin bowling alley, an expanded car park and a children’s soft play area.

DCLT chief executive Michael Hart told the committee it would need to have 48 per cent usage to break even, and similar schemes in other parts of the country were in the 70 per cent region.

Coun Bob Johnson, cabinet member for regeneration, warned doing nothing was not an option.

He said: “This is an opportunity for a step change. If we don’t do anything, we will be closing facilities.

“If we do nothing, we will be down to the three leisure centres which make money in four or five years.”

The committee has asked to review the scheme in 12 months.