Agenda item

Public Speaking/Open Session

In accordance with paragraph 2.24 of the Council’s Committee Procedure Rules and Appendix on Public Speaking, set out in the Constitution, a total period of 15 minutes is allocated for members of the public to put questions to the committee on any matter relating to this agenda. Each member of the public will be allowed up to two minutes each to speak, and the Chair will have discretion to vary this where they consider it appropriate.


Members of the public wishing to speak are required to provide notice of this at least three clear working days in advance of the meeting.



Ms Debbie Jamison addressed the committee in relation to the Strategic Leisure Review. Ms Jamison asked the committee to refuse the proposals to go out to consultation and felt that the matter was predetermined with the only option to close four leisure centres. Ms Jamison asked the committee to do due diligence and scrutinise the fairness, lawfulness and risks. Ms Jamison raised concerns about the impact on educational outcomes and curriculum, public health outcomes and carbon neutrality.


Ms Catherine Kenny spoke in relation to the Strategic Leisure Review and stated that she was present to protest against the proposals and asked the committee to consider the matter carefully as it affected a large number of people.


Ms Gemma Barthorpe spoke in relation to the Strategic Leisure Review with regards to the Middlewich site. Ms Barthorpe stated that there was a lack of leisure facilities in Middlewich and asked whether the Sutton Lane development would still go ahead. The Chair responded that information would need to be sought in order to provide an informed response and advised Ms Barthorpe to go through her local ward councillor to speak directly on updates to the Sutton Lane development.


Ms Haf Barlow attended the meeting to speak on behalf of Ms Julie Felton, representing Poynton Dippers Swimming Club, in relation to the Strategic Leisure Review. Ms Felton had stated that Poynton Leisure Centre was the focal point of the community and that closure would have a cross-generational impact on residents’ physical and mental wellbeing for years to come. With reference to Cheshire East’s Local Plan, it was stated that there was a need for local facilities which were easily accessible for all, but that the closure of leisure centres and focusing investment at larger facilities would not be in line with this. Ms Felton was concerned about the evidence base within the Strategic Leisure Review and felt that it was flawed and misleading for the following reasons:

·         It appeared that casual users, clubs, primary schools and Poynton High School use had not been included within the site usage figures for Poynton

·         Bollington was included within the population of Poynton, despite Bollington having its own leisure facility that was outside the scope of the review

·         The site assessment appeared to favour larger sites which served larger populations

·         Stockport being included in the benchmarking exercise despite it being more densely populated

·         The public health data appearing to be outdated with some dating back to 2006



Ms Sue Allan attending the meeting and spoke in relation to the Strategic Leisure Review. Ms Allan raised a number of concerns including:

·         Whether the usage figures quoted in the report include those who use facilities which have been booked by one person on behalf of a group

·         Whether the usage figures had been weighted to account for Knutsford being a joint use facility with Knutsford Academy, meaning some facilities were not available to the public during the day

·         An objection to spending money on Crewe, Nantwich and Shavington Leisure Centres, which were geographically close together, while considering the closure of leisure centres with further to travel to an alternative site

·         The report stating that there was no impact on rural communities despite there being rural communities surrounding Knutsford

·         The impact on education and health services, sports facilities at Knutsford Academy and pupils learning to swim

·         Provision for local sports teams and groups which were vital to the local community


Cllr Brian Bath, on behalf of Holmes Chapel Parish Council, addressed the committee in relation to the Strategic Leisure Review. Cllr Bath asked the committee to reject the report and consultation and raised the following points:


·         Holmes Chapel Parish Council had expected to be approached for input into the review as they were in a joint use agreement with Cheshire East, however this had not happened

·         There was no indication of expected savings from the four closures

·         Leisure centres were a vital community resource used extensively outside school hours for a range of purposes including sports clubs, community activities and events; however this was not considered in the report

·         No other sports pitches were available locally

·         The community centre referenced in the report was not a viable alternative

·         Schools were unaware of the proposals for closure

·         There was no mention made of Sport England being approached

·         Holmes Chapel Parish Council challenge the utility costs quoted and could see no substantiation for the figure

·         The consultation would run over the Christmas period and should be extended


Cllr Matthew Robertson, on behalf of Knutsford Town Council, spoke in relation to the Strategic Leisure Review. Knutsford Town Council objected to the general principle of removing a leisure centre from a key service centre and stated that this should not go to consultation. Over 100 families had contacted the Town Council on this issue and it was felt that this would be catastrophic to the health, wellbeing and education of Knutsford residents. Access to leisure centres was recommended by GPs and convenience was one of the most important factors in ensuring use. Cllr Robertson stated that the reality of the leisure centre closing would be a less active and healthy community which would cause long term issues and therefore long term costs for Cheshire East Council in years to come.


Cllr Michael Beanland spoke on behalf of Poynton Town Council in relation to the Strategic Leisure Review and raised the following points:

·         This did not appear to be a review aimed at sustaining a healthy future of the residents of north east Cheshire

·         Closure would directly affects 3000 pupils

·         All leisure centres proposed for closure were joint use sites with schools

·         Other options were not being considered in the report

·         The report appeared to contain basic errors, for example it stated that the pool size at the Poynton site was 25m but it was 20m and there were no direct rail links with Hazel Grove

·         Youth clubs were essential in reducing anti-social behaviour and would need a suitable venue

·         That the committee should reject this report and ask for an open review examining all options which would be fair to all Cheshire East residents


Cllr Anthony Harrison addressed the committee in relation to the Strategic Leisure Review and stated that within the last seven days he had received over 100 emails from residents who were opposed to the withdrawal of key funding to Knutsford Leisure Centre. Cllr Harrison asked the committee to oppose the recommendations in the report and raised the following concerns:


·         Regarding the impact assessment, the figures in the report did not represent true usage of the centres and omitted club figures, school figures and other activities

  • By removing a key strategic site such as Knutsford Leisure Centre, the Council was creating a 200 square mile geographical void where residents would not have access to a local public leisure centre facility
  • Using the tartan rug to remove facilities that would allow people to maintain their mental and physical health
  • On Friday 3 November, central government awarded £68,000 to leisure in Congleton, £112,000 to Macclesfield, £119,000 to Crewe and Nantwich, £202,000 to Eddisbury and £127,734 to Tatton, all of which was additional income to prevent closures but could not be covered in the report due to being declared after the agenda was published