Friday, 4 February 2011

Council announces major leisure centre changes

Leeds City Council has announced it is to change its management of four leisure centres over the coming months.

In response to the current extreme financial position facing the council as well as ongoing plans to modernise all council services, it has been announced that East Leeds Leisure Centre is to close on 31 March while Garforth Squash and Leisure Centre is to move to reduced opening hours from 1 April.

The council are actively exploring the possibility of both centres being taken over and run by local community groups under Community Asset Transfers (CAT), with a proposal currently being discussed for Garforth.

From September, Bramley Baths will also move to reduced hours while at Middleton Leisure Centre the swimming pool is to close that month, but a major investment will also be carried out which will see improvements to the sports pitches and new changing facilities put in place.

The decisions have been taken as part of the need for all council services to make significant savings in order to achieve the target of a £90m council-wide reduction in the next 12 months and £150m in total over four years.

The four leisure centres are all proving increasingly expensive to run and maintain and have all seen a significant decline in customer use, such as Bramley Baths which has seen a 30 per cent reduction in use since the new Armley Leisure Centre opened nearby last summer. In total, these changes would bring about savings of approximately £1m per year.

Leeds City Council executive member for Leisure Councillor Adam Ogilvie said:

“Making these decisions was very difficult and we have done everything we can to keep these changes to a minimum. Unfortunately given the current financial position doing nothing is not an option – all areas of the council have to make major savings and that includes how we manage our leisure centres.

“In East Leeds and Garforth we are keen to talk to any group who may be interested in getting involved in taking over the centres, and at Middleton although the swimming pool is to close over £1 million is to be spent on major improvements - so we hope that shows our commitment to still offering the people of Leeds the best possible leisure centres and sports services we can despite the major budget challenges.”

The programme of activities and school swimming sessions affected by these changes are to be accommodated at alternative sites while all permanent staff will be transferred into other leisure centres or vacant posts across the council.

For more information on the leisure centre changes, visit www.leeds.gov.uk/leisureproposals

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Leisure media relations officer,
Tel 0113 247 5472, Email: roger.boyde@leeds.gov.uk

Plans to boost help for people with disabilities

Leeds City Council executive board will meet next week (Friday 11 February) to discuss new plans to deliver a more efficient service to help people with disabilities get around their homes.

The council has a responsibility to provide assistance to people with disabilities and make changes to their homes to make life easier. The executive board have been recommended to approve a new strategy towards this and to instruct officers to report back on future progress.

The council delivers these services through three directorates at the moment; Children and Young People’s Social Care, Adult Social Care and Environment and Neighbourhoods. Assistance is given either through the direct provision off changes in public sector homes, or through financial assistance to private home owners to assist in meeting the cost of the changes needed to their home.

Housing adaptations provide solutions to housing needs that can lead to improvement in well-being, reduced risk, increased independence and prevention of need of higher levels of support or admission to residential care for older and disabled people.

This new strategic approach will ensure that the council are able to deliver a high quality of service in responding to the adaptation needs of the people of Leeds .

Councillor Peter Gruen , Leeds City Council executive board member for neighbourhoods and housing said:

“The new strategy supports the city’s priority of promoting independent living within Leeds.

“We want to ensure that by using this new approach we can make customer delivery the prime focus and ensure we respond promptly and provide a more efficient service.

“A coordinated approach will ensure that agencies with responsibility for adaptations are working in a transparent way, achieving value for money and avoiding duplication.

“The board have already agreed an approved extra expenditure of £1million for ALMO’s to assist with the cost of adaptations, and we are very committed to this cause.”

In July 2010 the executive board approved the expenditure of £1million for ALMOs to assist in addressing the increasing demand they have for adaptations to disabled customers’ homes. The council have entered into a contract with local home improvement agency, Care and Repair, who will undertake work on council properties.

Ends

For media enquiries, please contact;
Cat Milburn, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 247 4450
Email: Catherine.milburn@leeds.gov.uk