New commitment to Kidsgrove sports provision

The future of leisure provision at Kidsgrove Sports Centre is looking more certain and received further commitment from Newcastle’s Cabinet in October.

In July 2017, a Community Group Community Interest Organisation (CIO) was formed with the aim of re-opening part of the facility, the ‘dry-side’, over the next few years. Plans for the reopening of the swimming pool at that stage were considered too ambitious due to a lack of funding.

Since then the Council has been working with the CIO through a steering group and, in a revised outlook on the project, new reports show that plans to reopen the centre are set to go ahead, including the further phased re-opening of the swimming pool.

Costs for the project are now estimated at lower overall than was originally anticipated. The capital costs, however, will be greater than anticipated in the original agreement and there is now the prospect that a short term operating subsidy may be required.

The original agreement was to transfer the centre, as part of a “back to back” arrangement,  from the original owners, Staffordshire County Council, to the Borough Council and then to the newly formed CIO. Plans were based on aspirations for the provision of a new centre – this is listed as an aim in the Council’s 10-year Capital Programme although no funding source has been formally aligned to it.

A statement from NBC, said: “The Council has been working closely with the community group over the last few months to refine the plans and to assess the quickest and most efficient way to reopen sport facilities in Kidsgrove.

“The local Community have said they wish that to include swimming provision. Under the previous proposal it could have taken up to 8 years to bring back swimming and cost up to £10million. Under these new proposals this could be delivered a lot sooner and at less cost.”

Mark Clews, representing Kidsgrove CIO, said: “The option to fully refurbish the existing centre is not only the quickest route for the provision of sports and leisure facilities for communities in the north of the Borough, but also considerably cheaper than new build alternatives.

“The proposal is very much based on a community led centre, which is run by the community for the community. This ensures the local leisure needs of the community will always be at the heart of decisions made. A Community Engagement Event took place at Tesco Kidsgrove where the community viewed the plans and shared their views on what they want community leisure provision to look like.”

Following the Cabinet meeting it is expected that an all-party panel will be set-up to consider the newly revised estimates alongside the CIO’s business plan in more depth. The panel will then make a formal recommendation to Council on the next steps forward for this project.

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