A ROW rages on over Portsmouth City Council’s decision to hand over the reins of The Pyramids Centre to a new company.
As previously reported in The News, the city’s Labour group wants the council’s scrutiny panel to look at whether it should be reconsidered.
But Cllr Lee Hunt says the right thing was done because there is strong support for the leisure complex.
He said 9,000 people signed a petition against the closure of The Pyramids in 2008 – and believes it would still attract the same level of support.
‘We have a great seafront with lots to do and more is coming all the time,’ he said.
‘The Pyramids is an important part of the seafront’s wider offer and our city’s regional ‘pull’.’
‘Visitor numbers to The Pyramids are already up from 184,000 two years ago to more than 250,000 now.’
The new operator, which has yet to be announced, will take over from Southsea Community Leisure Limited, which has come to the end of its contract, in the autumn.
It will run the premises on behalf of the council for the next five years and it will be given £2m over that period towards running costs.
Cllr Hunt said: ‘The new operator will enhance the facility hugely and add to the seafront’s status as a great destination. The seafront evolves all the time with tastes and expectations.’
Labour group leader John Ferrett said a lot had changed since the petition was drawn up.
‘Clearly that’s a survey from many years ago,’ he said.
‘I don’t think that should be used to judge how people think about The Pyramids now.
‘We are making millions of pounds worth of cuts to services.
‘Things have to be looked at in a completely different context now.
‘I don’t think the people of Portsmouth feel good about it when they know public toilets are being cut and are instead being asked to put money into a private company running The Pyramids.
‘They are also being asked to burden the risk if something goes wrong with the facility.’
The council’s scrutiny panel is due to meet to discuss the matter at a later date.