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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

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‘Leisure services will remain in our control’ say Barrow councillors

THERE are no plans to transfer a museum, leisure centre and arts venue into trust, despite contingency proposals in the council budget.

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VENUES Clockwise from left, The Forum, Park Leisure Centre and Dock Museum

Barrow Borough Council subsidises the Dock Museum, the Park Leisure Centre and The Forum.

But in the face of large government funding cuts, the council’s 2011/15 budget strategy proposed it should consider transferring management of the venues to a leisure trust by 2016.

The council has been exploring options for how the venues should be run and has re-established a cultural services board to look at their continued running.

However, Councillor Ann Thomson, who sits on the overview and scrutiny committee which has been tasked with looking at the services, said it’s not something the council wants to pursue.

She said: “It’s still on the budget strategy, but at the moment the scrutiny committee has looked into the cultural services and won’t be putting it into trust.

“But we don’t know what’s going to happen after the election next year. If we have more massive, swingeing cuts, you just don’t know. There are avenues for more partnership sharing, but there is no appetite among the members or among the officers for them to go into trust.”

Cllr Thompson said partnership working was always an option and pointed to how the leisure centre’s partnership with Pulse had been a success with the gym and sports pitches at that venue.

Following talks with staff at the venues, a number of improvements were suggested by the respective managers.

“They included setting up incentivised membership packages to encourage more use and reviewing opening times.

Council leader, Councillor Dave Pidduck, said: “We have to prepare for 2015 and beyond and what we’ve got to do is guess what central government is going to do.

“Will they continue their policy of cuts to local government, will more funding be available and what would be the impact of a change in government?”

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