'Call-in' over decision to axe indoor bowls from Kirklees Council's £36m sports centre

Cabinet ruled cost implications led to decision to remove indoor bowls from new sports centre

Progress of new sports centre at Springwood.

Councillors have ‘called in’ a controversial decision to axe indoor bowling from Huddersfield’s new £36m sports centre.

Clr Cahal Burke and six of his Lib Dem colleagues want Kirklees Council’s Overview and Scrutiny process to assess whether the Cabinet’s decision was ‘open and fair’.

Hundreds of bowlers who currently use the facilities at the existing centre are furious at the decision.

Clr Burke, a Lindley Lib Dem, said: “I hope the meeting takes place as soon as possible so we can put across all the relevant information and facts and figures that weren’t fully considered by Cabinet.

“I think the bowlers felt they haven’t had a fair hearing, and rightly so when you get comments by Cabinet members regarding the generation not being relevant anymore.”

Clr Burke’s comment relates to Clr Peter O’Neill, Cabinet member for leisure, who said at last week’s Full Council that the current and soon-to-close sports centre was “built for a different generation’s needs” as he defended Kirklees’ decision to remove indoor bowling from the new sports centre. He was heckled by the bowlers and opposition members in the council chamber for the comment.

The call-in is a formal process where Overview and Scrutiny panel members can ask the decision-maker, in this case Kirklees Cabinet, to re-think their decision. All action to implement Cabinet’s decision is now suspended.

Click on the gallery below to see lots more pictures by Construct Films from inside the centre.

 

Clr Burke’s call-in says the Cabinet decision lacked adequate consultation, was not open and fair and was based on inaccurate statistics.

It adds that the figures in last week’s Cabinet report “are inaccurate and need to be fully explored and provided in a clear and transparent way in order for a decision to be made”.

The call-in adds that the bowlers were not consulted and had just one week to prepare for the Cabinet meeting.

At the meeting the bowlers revealed the first they knew of the decision to axe indoor bowling from the new sports centre was when the Examiner told them.

Cabinet agreed unanimously to remove indoor bowls and use the space earmarked for bowls as a bigger fitness suite.

In a blogpost the Kirklees Labour Party said that local government finances cuts since the initial decision has had a “knock on effect to the support the council provides to the charitable organisation that is Kirklees Active Leisure (KAL) adding: “This is not therefore a case of one group of service users contesting with another on which of their activities should hold most prominence. It is the unfortunate position of an organisation seeking a position of long term financial sustainability; choosing to expand facilities of significant user growth and more people over 55 years of age, rather than install facilities that would quickly create a financial loss, is the only credible decision.”

Work is continuing on the new centre at Springwood.

It will replace the centre in Southgate which has been sold to Tesco for a new superstore.

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