Friday, 19 December 2008

Powys Leisure centres under threat ?

So having turned out the lights and forced the elderly off our streets (good crime reduction idea.. I think not) Powys are turning their attention to the entire community especially those who wish to keep in shape or learn to swim.

It would appear that leisure facilities are under "review" It seems that 16 leisure centres for 125k people is too many.

Of course looked at another way since 16 centres are all that is needed to cover 25% of the land area of Wales we only need another 48 to give everyone the same geographic access as Powys residents. Somehow such a suggestion would be laughable, after all that would mean only 1 or perhaps 2 centres for the whole of Cardiff and there is the core of the problem. Close any of the existing centres and you force residents on a 30+ mile round trip to the nearest alternative. Put another way it would be like expecting all Cardiff residents to use leisure centres in Newport.

The subtext is more interesting though. "areas under scrutiny would be opening hours, leisure centre activities, usage and pricing policy" in short we won't close them but you are going to pay though the nose to use them.

Lighting may have been a thorny question for many but the loss of one of these facilities would be a major hit for any of the towns concerned and send a clear message to the town concerned that they are no longer important.

Looking wider than the obvious it does raise serious issues about how government funds are apportioned to Welsh authorities. No settlement can be completely equitable due to the conflicting demands but there are clearly identified costs of delivering services in rural areas over an above urban ones.

Perhaps what we are seeing now is real impact of this lack of central understanding, or perhaps we are seeing the reality that the all party cabinet and lots of independent councillors just don't work in holding the officers to account and services suffer as a result.

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