Dorset Council’s proposal to withdraw from the contract to run the QE Leisure Centre could lead to the closure of the facility to the public.
If local people want Queen Elizabeth’s Leisure Centre to remain open, they need to have their say on its future.
Dorset Council is considering whether to withdraw from the contract to run the centre which could lead to its closure as a public facility.
The move would also reduce central government funding to the school by £280,000 per year.
QE Leisure Centre is owned by the school’s foundation and is managed by the council under a dual use agreement, allowing the school and wider community to use it.
Facilities include a 25m swimming pool, three gymnasiums, climbing wall, fitness studios and an outdoor 3G sports pitch.
If the council withdraws from the agreement, the school will lose vital funding from central government that is required to maintain the facilities, which already require investment.
Headteacher Katie Boyes said: “The agreement allows the council to give two years’ notice on withdrawing from the contract, which is what they are considering.
“Clearly this would leave the school in a difficult position, especially as we would lose £280,000 per year funding from central government and be left with a building which requires considerable investment.
“We would of course find a way to continue the commitment to our comprehensive and excellent school sports programmes, but our preferred option is for the school and council to continue working together.
“The agreement, which was between us and East Dorset District Council prior to the local government reorganisation, runs until 2086. The centre was purpose-built as a dual use facility.
“Before the final decision is taken the council is holding a consultation and we’d urge people to let the council know what they think.
“The local area has a rapidly growing population and the leisure centre provides the school and the community with vital sporting and fitness facilities.”
Queen Elizabeth’s School is part of Wimborne Academy Trust.
Cllr Jill Haynes, Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for Customer and Community Services, said: “At a time when all our Council budgets are stretched, we are struggling to justify continuing to spend so much on a facility that we don’t own, in an area that already has many leisure opportunities.
“We recognise that, if the school is unable to make alternative arrangements for the future management of the facility, there may be an impact on both employees and users of QELC. Therefore, it is important we carry out this consultation exercise so we can properly consider the views of those who may be most affected by the proposed withdrawal of our management.
“If you are a resident of the Dorset Council area or a regular visitor to QELC as an individual, part of a group or an employee, then we want to hear your views. Please fill out the survey before the 7 November, after which we will collate the feedback, publish our findings and report back to elected members, who will make a final decision on our future with QELC. Thank you for your input.”
The authority says it subsidises its community use of QELC at a cost of over half a million pounds a year, which is far higher than any of the eight leisure facilities the Council owns, which have to share what’s left of the £1.7m per year leisure centres budget.
The consultation is available from live https://www.dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/QELC-survey.
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