Jeremy Rowe

Cornwall Councillor for the Parishes of Egloshayle, St Breock, St Ervan, St Eval, St Issey, St Mabyn & St Tudy Learn more

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Camelford – and everyone else – ‘misdirected’ over Leisure Centre

by Jeremy Rowe on 16 November, 2010

Those councillors and members of the public who attended the recent Communities Committee budget scrutiny meeting all appear to have left the room with the same impression of the short term future of Camelford Leisure Centre. The facility had been threatened with closure due to the removal of Cornwall Council funding but – at the eleventh hour – it seemed that the Conservative Cabinet Member had pulled a rabbit out of the hat to finance the Centre for a further year.

This certainly seemed to take the sting out of what threatened to be a highly awkward meeting for the Tory-led administration and local residents, who had campaigned hard to make their case against closure, left feeling that at least there was something to work towards. All of that changed last night.

I and other councillors have received a number of emails from those fighting to protect the facilities expressing their dismay at the administration’s sudden attempt to back away from its announcement. In what represents a blatant moving of the goalposts, Cornwall Council are now saying they only offered the Centre less than half the amount required – not the impression gained by anyone else who was at the Scrutiny Committee that day.

Here is the text of one of the emails:

Tonight the people of North Cornwall were betrayed.

At the first meeting of the working group, set up to look at the options for Camelford Leisure Centre following the promise by The Leader (via Cllr Symons) of full funding for the next year and a lot less for the year after, the message was clear from the Council – the full funding amounts to £50k for next year and £10k for the year after – less than 45% of what was promised.

This move effectively kills off the hopes of the people that the council would give the time for a sustainable solution to be sought.

A detailed proposal was put to the councillors, but the campaign were effectively told that it would not have the time to put it in place.

All this despite significant issues on HR, joint ownership, and the speed at which a trust could be set up.

The community were prepared to work hard to assess all the options and put in long hours to do so, but the question on many lips tonight is “can the council be trusted?”

Amid claims from the Councillor that the funding was not promised at the level that most who attended the scrutiny meeting thought it had, there were recriminations that North Cornwall has to bear the brunt of the cuts.

There is a nasty wiff about this about-turn.

Save Camelford Sportscentre

I cannot understand why the Council have behaved this way towards the residents of Camelford and the surrounding area. While there would have been great disappointment, there would have been a great deal more respect for this decision had it been announced openly and transparently at the Scrutiny meeting. Instead we all sat through a charade of misdirection intended to take the heat out of an awkward situation. Cornwall Council’s ruling administration will have no one else to blame if, as seems likely, their reputation among many residents in North Cornwall now lies in tatters.

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