WaGCG : Wantage and Grove Campaign Group
Wantage and Grove Campaign Group (WaGCG)

Column 20th July 2022

The Mystery of the Disappearing Leisure Strategy

I attended a District Council meeting last week because I’m still interested in what will happen to the money from developers which was for the new Leisure Centre (cancelled in March 2020).

So I asked a question about the Leisure Strategy which Councillor Helen Pighills (Cabinet member for healthy communities) stated in February 2021 that she hoped would be completed in March 2021.

As it’s now July 2022, I asked when it would be available and if there would be any public consultation.

The response did not mention public consultation so I assume that we won’t get to comment (even though they would ignore any comments anyway).

The response did say that an Active Community Strategy would be presented to Cabinet this Friday 22 July but that officers are working to obtain the relevant expertise to develop a district wide Leisure Facilities Strategy.

I thought that the Leisure Strategy was being prepared in 2021 but I’m obviously mistaken.

The response also stated that they don’t expect to appoint the consultants until the end of this year.

So I have no idea when this Leisure Facilities Strategy will be completed or what it will comprise.

The Active Community Strategy paper is now published in advance of the Cabinet meeting.

It doesn’t mention leisure centres or swimming pools at all but only refers to outdoor facilities such as green spaces, water and things like playground equipment, outdoor gyms, social activities/ games equipment or skate parks.

It states that the Council’s delivery plan will focus around four key areas:

  • Mapping and undertaking a gap analysis of current provision across the district.
  • Connecting and developing an active community partnership network between residents, community groups, parishes and businesses.
  • Identifying and delivering a programme of projects, activities, and opportunities to improve physical, mental and social wellbeing.
  • Ensuring communication, promotion, and continued engagement of active opportunities.

No timescales are given, but I would have thought that as the District Council own or maintain most outdoor facilities in the Vale, the first point shouldn’t take long.

As these councillors have already been in post for three years and are up for re-election next May, I don’t suppose that either the Leisure Facilities Strategy or any of this delivery plan will be completed by then.

What a waste of four years.

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