The Finance Director of Active Luton has written a strong protest letter to the Council over the decision to cancel funding for the maintenance of and improvements to Council owned leisure centres run by the Trust. As part of the budget cuts programme approved by the Labour Council last month, a £170,000 a year investment fund is to be cancelled.
Finance Director Lee Brook says the Trust spent £50,000 on a new floor at Putteridge Recreation Centre and £72,000 in preparation for major improvements to Stopsley Regional Sports Centre, with the full knowledge of the Council, only to be told AFTER the money had been spent that the Council planned to close both centres.
The Council says the Trust has £150,000 in reserve but the Trust claims this is due to contribute to a desperately needed £250,000 new irrigation system for the Stockwood Golf Centre.
Liberal Democrat opposition councillors have expressed astonishment about the revelations and what they say about the Council’s approach.
“When the previous Liberal Democrat administration set up the Trust to run the Council’s leisure centres we made sure their income was secure”, says Liberal Democrat Councillor Martin Pantling. “They needed that certainty so they could borrow to invest in improvements. With this security pulled from under them we will lose one of the key advantages of setting up the Trust in the first place, a steady and continuing investment in improved facilities. I hope this will not take us back to the bad old days of neglect and slow decline when the Council could not find the money to keep the facilities up to date.”
“The Council’s failure to talk to the Trust managers about their plans to close Putteridge Recreation Centre and the Stopsley Sports centre is disgraceful. It shows a complete lack of confidence in the Trust and raises serious questions about the Labour Executive’s willingness to work with Active Luton on an improvement programme.”