Fears over bid to sell off sports centres and playing fields
Council chiefs are considering selling off Bath's sports centres and playing fields.
Bath and North East Somerset Council raised the possibility of selling Bath Pavilion, Culverhay Sports Centre, the Entry Hill and Approach golf courses, and playing fields at Odd Down and Lansdown.
The sales are mooted in the authority's 25-year leisure strategy, though it says no final decision has been made.
The council is considering selling, leasing or transferring eight sites in total.
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The authority currently puts £500,000 a year towards the cost of running the different facilities, and spends a further £500,000 to cover the cost of its wellbeing and events programme.
A report to politicians said the council wanted to reduce the amount it paid to the operators of the different leisure facilities with the aim of making them all self-funding. The report added the authority would seek additional grant income to fund its wellbeing programme.
Bath and Keynsham leisure centres, the Pavilion, Culverhay Sports Centre and the two golf courses are currently managed by the charity Aquaterra on behalf of the council but this contract is coming up for renewal.
Bath Leisure Centre is already set to be transferred to the Recreation Ground Trust as part of Charity Commission proposals, while the Keynsham centre is earmarked for demolition and replacement as part of a town centre redevelopment.
Cabinet member for neighbourhoods Councillor David Dixon (Lib Dem, Oldfield) said the council would continue to support leisure projects.
He said: "The current programmes will continue but they may be commissioned slightly differently in the future.
"Through sport and leisure the council is also committed to improving fitness, creating an Olympic legacy and reducing health inequalities, as well as improving the health and wellbeing of the more vulnerable members of our community."
Conservative spokesman for tourism, leisure and culture, Councillor Martin Veal (Bathavon North), said the plans raised concerns about the future of Bath's leisure services.
He said: "There are clearly still many questions the council has to answer about these plans. But if the result of cutting funding is a significant hike in prices at the leisure centres, it will clearly deter people from using these facilities, especially those from lower-income households."
A spokesman for the council said the authority was considering a range of options to provide best value to taxpayers and added there was no intention to increase prices.
B&NES is now asking for expressions of interest from community groups, trusts, community interest companies and larger operators which might be interested in managing any of the sports facilities.