COUNCILLORS want to see a new community interest company (CIC) set up to manage the new Five Acres leisure centre in light of recent events in Gloucester.
Cllrs Tim Gwilliam and Jamie Elsmore (Berry Hill, Progressive Independents) are calling on Forest of Dean District Council to support the creation of a CIC made up of all those with a vested interest in the new £9 million facility once built at Berry Hill five miles from Monmouth.
It follows the sudden closure of GL1 leisure centre and Oxstalls sports park in Gloucester iast month after the trust that managed them on behalf of Gloucester City Council, Aspire, went into liquidation.
Some 150 staff members lost their jobs and although the council has developed a plan to reopen services in the short term, staff will be required to re-interview for their jobs.
Concerns had been raised earlier this year about funding for the facilities and the poor state of GL1’s swimming pool and showers.
Cllrs Gwilliam and Elsmore say the situation has “concentrated” their views on the running of Five Acres, and that the best people to manage it are those that will use it “and care about it the most”.
They will propose a motion on the issue to full council this Thursday (October 19).
Leisure facilities in the Forest are currently managed by Freedom Leisure, itself a not-for-profit charitable leisure and cultural trust.
Freedom manages the four leisure centres in the Forest on behalf of the council, in Coleford, Lydney, Newent and Sedbury.
In a post to X, formerly Twitter, last week, Cllr Gwilliam said “no criticism of Freedom is intended” with the motion.
Cllr Gwilliam, who played a key role in securing the funding for the facility from the government’s Levelling Up Fund during his time as Leader of the Council, said: “As development of the new Five Acres leisure facility gets closer we have for some time been thinking about the management of the facility.”
“We firmly believe that the very best people who to manage and run such facilities for the community are the very organisations who will cherish and use them”, he added.
The councillors propose the authority “agrees that the new sporting and leisure facilities being built at Five Acres are hugely important and can set a model for the district’s future provision and new facilities”.
They’re proposing that the CIC be made up of council representatives and officers together with schools, sports and performing arts clubs, community organisations and individuals who will have a vested interest in the facilities.