Portsmouth sports centre will not be sold – but costs will be cut

DECISION Cllr Vernon-Jackson
DECISION Cllr Vernon-Jackson

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PORTSMOUTH City Council has decided not to sell off one of its leisure centres to raise much-needed funds.

The cash-strapped local authority was considering putting Wimbledon Park Sports Centre on the open market after it decided it was paying Parkwood Leisure too much to run it.

This raised fears that Mayville High School in Southsea – which uses the facility during term time – could be shut out of any future deal.

So the school launched a bid to buy and run the leisure centre, which is in Taswell Road, Southsea, and submitted a business proposal to the council.

In a report officers admit that the offer was ‘some way short of the value of the asset’ and that it was the only bid the council had received.

So the council’s Lib Dem cabinet has taken the decision to continue the current arrangement with Parkwood, but with a 75 per cent reduction in its management fee.

This will see the cost to the taxpayer fall from £40,000 to £10,000 every year, although the centre will now close earlier at weekends and completely on bank holidays.

Leader of the council, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, said: ‘We haven’t found anybody who would meet with our requirements, so we are going to keep running it.’

Headteacher of Mayville High School, Martin Castle, said he was relieved that the school could continue to use the facilities just as before.

‘Our involvement was just to keep the facility available for our use,’ he said.

‘That was our aim and now that Parkwood are going to keep the contract it is going to be available for us.

‘We don’t feel we have lost out, we will continue to use it in the format that it is, just with fewer hours open at weekends.

‘I’m happy that it isn’t being sold to someone else.’