By Elliott Patrice –
Rumours emerged this week that more Kirklees Active Leisure (KAL) centres were at risk of being temporarily closed instead of or along with the centres in Batley, Colne Valley and Deighton.
The three sports facilities were temporarily closed in December due to financial pressures. At the time, the council claimed to have only known about the plan to close these KAL centres a week before the announcement.
Cllr Martyn Bolt’s (Con, Mirfield) comments sparked a debate on the timeline of the council’s knowledge of the proposed closures.
Cllr Bolt claimed that Dewsbury Sports Centre had also been marked for closure, but Kirklees Council had ruled this out.
‘Timeline of Events’
In an email with KLTV, when approached for comment, Cllr Bolt said: “I was told after last council of a timeline of events which suggested the Cabinet/Council/Leadership (not the majority of backbench councillors such as myself) were informed and consulted about the closures.
“I was not told who in the council was the contact, but it is reasonable and usual for the Leader and cabinet to be informed and consulted on major decisions, as that is their remit.
“This also answers the question of why some in the Council knew That would be expected with the Leader and Cabinet model of running a council.”
The councillor added, “With respect to why Dewsbury was saved and others ‘sacrificed’ and what influence the dialogue with the council had, I can’t answer that, and neither would the Leader when I asked him, which again is not surprising.
“If, and I say if, the saving of Dewsbury meant that Batley, Colne Valley or Deighton were added to the list, it would clearly raise serious questions and have political implications he may not wish to face”.
So there are questions of who knew what within the council and when. There is also a question about the Dewsbury sports centre and whether the decision to omit Dewsbury from the list of closures affected the other sports facilities that went on to be temporarily closed.
When KLTV reached out to the council, a spokesperson commented: “The decision to temporarily close the three sites was taken by Kirklees Active Leisure (KAL) management and the Board of Trustees who oversee the operation of leisure centres across Kirklees.
“The council is always on hand to advise and support its local partner organisations. As such, council officers liaise with KAL in the normal course of their work. But in this case, the final decision on closures was made by KAL on the basis of criteria it had set for itself.
“The council is now working closely with KAL on a financial support package that will help them re-introduce services to support as many residents as possible to access health and fitness provision. As part of that work, KAL are running a consultation about the future of all three sites.
“Customers and users of the facilities have the opportunity to shape the future of the offer in their area”.