Decision was by all parties
8:20am Thursday 16th August 2012 in Letters
I BELIEVE that it would be helpful if I enlarge on the recent changeover in day-to-day management of the five leisure centres in the Vale, including Penarth and Llantwit Major (Penarth Times, August 9), as it needs to be made clear that this was an all-party decision agreed by Conservatives, Labour, Plaid and independents, although promoted by the Conservatives in the first instance.
For years it had been recognised the council did not (and still has not) sufficient capital funds available to modernise the centres to a satisfactory degree required by regular patrons, and the public were quick to point out any defects on an-all-too often basis to management and councillors alike.
About two years ago, as the Conservative cabinet member with responsibility for leisure amongst other services, I was charged with bringing forwards sustainable proposals to bring about new management options for change to the system under which we operated our centres across the Vale. I chaired a cross-party working group, whose members included Mark Wilson (Labour) of Penarth and Gwyn John (independent) of Llantwit Major, to assess and quantify the several proposals that we received from leading industry private sector operators, each of whom was very keen to take on the opportunity of working closely with the council to benefit the centres’ overall management. Immediately prior to the elections earlier this year, the group unanimously agreed the details of the successful bid (from Parkwood), who have now taken on the management in line with that decision.
It is therefore a little ironic that the new administration in the Vale steps up the table to claim credit for the decision to “go private”.
However much it might grit in the teeth of some of their colleagues for whom any management options, unless ultimately controlled by a large committee, are usually not even contemplated.
However in this instance it was a remarkably long-sighted decision by those same working group members that is already bringing immediate benefits to centre users – the people who pay – and who will now benefit from substantial benefits in greatly improved facilities.
Thus proving that local authorities sometimes make very sensible and financially satisfactory decisions.
Anthony Ernest (Cllr) Penarth