Council apologises over historic failure on Fairford and Tetbury Leisure Centres
Cotswold District Council has issued an apology for decisions it took in 2012 which led to the closure of leisure centres in Fairford and Tetbury.
The Council considered a report which suggested learnings following the closure of Tetbury and Fairford leisure centres in 2019, which were highlighted in a report on the findings of a Task and Finish Group set up to establish what had happened, following concerns from local residents.
Councillor Joe Harris, Leader of Cotswold District Council said, “I want to say a massive thank you to the working group. The report highlights the truth - that the leisure centres in Fairford and Tetbury should still be open.
“When I became Leader, and Jenny Forde Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, we were informed that the schools running the leisure centres were unable to continue doing so as they were no longer financially viable. This should never have happened.
“We wanted to learn what went wrong to be able to make sure it never happens again. And as we move forward, we need to accept the mistakes made in 2012 and learn from them.”
Councillor Gary Selwyn, Vice-Chair Overview and Scrutiny Committee added, "The Task and Finish Group was a very worthwhile exercise; this non-political group examined in detail the events leading to the closure of the sports facilities, interviewed over 20 individuals including the schools, sports centre management, local residents and former and present Councillors.
“The carefully researched and considered recommendations are presented with objectivity and confidence in the recommendations"
The report submitted to Council by the group on Thursday 14th July, and supported by the Council’s Cabinet and Overview and Scrutiny Committee, put forward six key learnings to help improve the future provision of leisure services across the district which were all agreed by Council. These included improvements to the Council’s procurement and commissioning approach, changes to decision making and improved financial monitoring.
Actions have already been taken to support the recommendations including a new commissioning approach to make sure contracts are awarded correctly and transparently.
Cabinet approved a new ‘Leisure Strategy’ in March 2021 which set out the Council’s approach to future leisure provision in the district with communities in Tetbury and Fairford taking part in the development of the strategy.
The strategy identified a need for informal community spaces and centres in order to provide a range of opportunities for physical activity and sport - particularly in the rural areas of the district. It suggests retaining existing facilities, and where new housing developments take place, the Council should consider the provision of additional community facilities, or refurbishment of existing one, in order to encourage greater participation in physical activity using enhanced partnerships. A recommendation on the future of leisure facilities in the Cotswolds based on this approach is due to be brought to Cabinet in Autumn 2021.
Over recent months the Council has started a number of new district-wide health initiatives designed to help people access local exercise activities including the ‘We Can Move’ social movement, Crowdfund Cotswold, which can help fund local health initiatives, and a new locality- focused approach to help address health inequalities.
In the Fairford area the ‘Working for Wellbeing’ initiative has been set up to help provide community activities tailored to local people and in Tetbury the Council is working closely with the Tetbury Town Council to develop local health activities.
Cotswold District Council Communications Team
Notes to editors
The full report can be found here: https://meetings.cotswold.gov.uk/documents/s2497/Agenda%20Item%2008%20-%20Leisure%20Task%20and%20Finish%20Group.pdf