New manager to be sent in to save Portsmouth leisure centre

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AN EMERGENCY manager is to be appointed to take over at a trouble-hit leisure centre.

Stamshaw and Tipner Leisure Centre is to have a boss sent in by Portsmouth City Council to try to rescue the struggling community venue, which has cost the council more than £100,000 in bail-outs in the last three years.

The council’s leader for culture, Councillor Lee Hunt, said: ‘The centre needs help to keep going.

‘We at the council have had to repeatedly bail it out to pay bills and staffing costs and that can’t continue.

‘It’s cash we shouldn’t have to spend, and which will as a result not be going on other things.’

Cllr Hunt estimates the council has had to step in to pay £13,500 in the last three years to pay electricity and gas bills, and keep its utilities switched on.

And the council confirmed it has also spent £90,000 in the last three years to help pay for staffing at the facility in Wilson Road, Stamshaw.

In response, Cllr Hunt has agreed a new manager should be installed, who will report on financial progress in four months.

He said: ‘We want someone who will steady the ship. They will be someone already employed by us, who will step in as an interim measure to help the centre maximise its income streams and get back on track.

‘There are good staff there, and they work very hard.

‘But it’s with their support and that of the community, that we’re taking this step.’

In April last tear, The News reported that despite running many successful and popular activities, the centre was unable to pay its bills.

At the time, staff said one reason was that a large section of the building had been closed due to being unsafe.

Since then, the council has agreed to spend £133,000 on demolition and extension work, which has already begun.

Cllr Hunt said: ‘The bar had to be shut, because that part of the building was dangerous. And that lost the centre income.

‘But we’re working hard to rejuvenate it, and soon it will be a modern, safe building, looking fit for purpose again.’