Leisure and sport facilities bear brunt of Lancaster City Council cuts proposals

Salt Ayre Sports Centre. Lancaster.
Salt Ayre Sports Centre. Lancaster.

Salt Ayre Sports Centre, The Assembly Rooms, parks and open spaces, council run events and the district’s Visitor Information Centres all face financial cuts as the city council looks to save £3.5m by 2015.

The future of the council run Williamson Park’s café and butterfly house will also be looked at, as the council considers closing the indoor market on the ground floor or the Assembly Rooms, in China Street.

Images of Lancashire Gardens''Williamson Park and Butterfly House

Images of Lancashire Gardens''Williamson Park and Butterfly House

Lancaster City Council’s cabinet will receive proposals for reviewing services as it looks to tackle its “bleak financial future”.

The council is currently looking at all of its service areas to identify where savings can be made, and councillors will be asked to approve proposals at a meeting on November 5.

The long term future of Salt Ayre Sports Centre and community pools will come under tough scrutiny, to identify where savings can be made, including partnering with a private operator or creating a leisure trust or social enterprise.

In 2013/14 it is estimated that the cost of running the centre will be £971,200.

It is likely that the management of parks and open spaces would be merged with the council’s Environmental Services department.

Specific areas to be reviewed will include the provision of events, the district’s Visitor Information Centres, communications and marketing activity, as well the impact of not providing officer time to support regeneration projects and economic development.

Coun Eileen Blamire, leader of Lancaster City Council, said: “Without a doubt this is the toughest challenge we have ever faced and we have to look at every area of our budget.

“Over the coming weeks and months we will be looking at further areas where we can make savings and by the end of the process there will be no area of the council that has not been reviewed.

“I have to stress that at this stage no firm decisions have been taken on any of the service areas – we are simply asking for more work to be done and a series of options developed for us to look at further.

“But I also have to be clear that the options will need to be radical and lead to large scale savings.

We have to take decisive action if we are to set a balanced budget.”

Work has been taking place to establish whether the current use of the ground floor of Assembly Rooms as an indoor market is sustainable. Footfall is not increasing, turnover of new traders is high, there are several vacant stalls and income generated by the Council is minimal. (Note the upper floor is currently

leased to Ludus).

As can be seen from Appendix A, it is clear that there are actually significant opportunities offered from using the Assembly Rooms in a different way.