Communities warned to use leisure facilities – or lose them

Councillor Wright – use facilities or lose them.

People in Moray must use the leisure facilities available to them – or risk losing them altogether.

That was the message from the leader of Moray Council during a debate on the future of Moray’s leisure facilities on the back of a review that began eight months ago.

The detailed review of all venues operated by Moray Council produced a number of recommendations to reduce costs, including reducing the temperatures at swimming pools and reviewing staffing arrangements in sports halls and community centres.

Leader of the Council, Allan Wright, said that if communities wished to retain their existing facilities then the local authority would be happy to work with them over the next year.

He said: “We want to test out different models of operating that may generate higher usage of facilities and therefore the necessary income to reduce the annual operating costs to be borne by the council.”

A number of different operating models might include changed opening hours and pricing structures, with Councillor Wright adding the warning: “Let us all be very clear, the message from the council is ‘use it or lose it’, so tell us the best way to make our pools, leisure centres and other facilities more attractive.”

Labour councillor Barry Jarvis said that the review had been “one of the most intense and thorough pieces of work every undertaken by Moray Council”.

The Elgin councillor added: “It has taken on board the views of thousands of service users, staff and national guidance in terms of delivering a high quality, cost effective service across Moray.

“It is unique not only in the scale of the work but also in terms of the leadership of it as at all points it has been elected members not officers leading the discussions and deliberations relying on officers purely for factual information.

“I think it is fair to say that it is important that it is emphasised that the status quo is not an option for future delivery and it is hoped that through increasing income and reducing costs that facilities can be made more effective and sustainable in the long term.

“I look forward to the next round of consultations with the public to discuss how these proposals can be implemented and any further ways to continue to work on making our services more sustainable so that they can be enjoyed for the benefit of generations to come.”

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