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Criticism over free leisure offer for council staff

Criticism over free leisure offer for council staff

11 months ago 924 views

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By All About Newtown

Powys County Council is facing criticism over an offer for all council staff, including teachers, to enjoy free use of leisure facilities run by the struggling Freedom Leisure Group.

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The offer, which includes a free seven-day pass for all Powys County Council staff, including those working at schools, has sparked outrage amongst residents who are struggling to cope with rising heating and grocery bills, as well as the cost of using leisure centres across the county.

The future of Freedom Leisure Group-run facilities in Powys has been uncertain due to pressure for additional funding from the company, which led to the announcement of three-month closures of certain leisure facilities only a few months ago. The decision was reversed following public outcry and a better-than-expected final settlement from Welsh Government.

County Councillor Graham Breeze (Welshpool) has questioned the decision to accept the offer, asking if it is appropriate for a struggling organisation to offer free facilities to council staff at centres that were under threat of closure only a few months ago. He also raised concerns that the council staff are benefiting from a seven-day free pass while residents across the county are struggling to afford the facilities.

Councillor Breeze has called on Council Leader James Gibson-Watt and Councillor David Selby, Cabinet Member for a More Prosperous Powys, to answer a series of questions regarding the decision to accept the offer. These include whether the offer was discussed and approved at Cabinet Level or scrutinised by the council in any way, and if the acceptance of free use of facilities for council staff will be permitted in the future.

The controversy comes at a time when many families throughout Powys are experiencing rising costs of leisure centre usage.

The full list of questions are listed below. A response must be given within 20 working days.

"Could the Council Leader and the Portfolio Holder for a More Prosperous Powys please answer:

If they consider it appropriate that a struggling organisation such as Freedom Leisure should be offering free facilities to Powys County Council staff at centres which were under threat of closure only months ago?

If they consider it appropriate that Powys County Council staff should benefit from a seven-day free pass to use facilities which residents from all across the county are struggling to afford?

Was the offer from Freedom Leisure discussed and approved at Cabinet Level or scrutinised by the council in any way?

If the answer to question 3 is “No” can confirmation be provided of who did approve and accept the offer?

Will they recognise that the acceptance of free use of the facilities for Powys County Council staff was ill-conceived and will not be permitted in the future?"


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