A campaign to save a sports centre from being cut in half has been handed a boost after the council admitted “it wouldn’t be right” to forge ahead with the plans.
William Penn Leisure Centre was set to see its hall cut in half following an accepted proposal from Three Rivers District Council (TRDC) for Everyone Active to take over the running of the hall.
Everyone Active had included in their plans a proposal to halve the size of the sports hall, which is used for badminton, football, netball as well as other sports, to turn it into a soft play area, climbing wall and café.
Those plans caused uproar among the sports hall members as well as the local community who felt the full-size hall should be maintained.
Many of those fighting to save the hall turned up at TRDC to hear the council admit the plans would not be acceptable without full consideration and as a result the council would maintain the running of the hall whilst a solution could be found.
Councillor Alex Michaels, who sits on TRDC’s leisure committee, said that the council is doing all it can to find the right solution for the community and that the costly running of the leisure centre in the long term is best placed away from the council.
He said: “It costs upwards of £60,000 to run the sports hall each year and so it makes sense to have an external company take over the running with each period of ownership being 20 years.
“When we went out to tender earlier this year we only had six applicants, three of which only three were suitable. That included the current tenants but unfortunately, they and one other dropped out leaving us with only one candidate.
“The original plans were approved by councillors, including the Conservatives, and now it is clear they are not right and a new solution needs to be found.”
TRDC and Everyone Active will now work together to find a solution whilst the running of William Penn remains in council control for the next 12 months.