Council quiet on centre costs

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

MID-ULSTER District Council is remaining tight lipped on how much it's decision to take back operational control of Greenvale Leisure Centre will cost local ratepayers.

Two weeks ago the Courier revealed that the Council had decided to take back control of the Magherafelt Leisure Centre from Pulse Fitness Ltd.

The agreement signed with Pulse Fitness allows for this break however, the Courier understand that such action will cost the council a one off payment of 500,000, on top of an estimated cost of 1 million per year.

When quizzed on concerns over costs, a spokesperson for the Council responded: "It would be inappropriate for the Council to comment on the current terms and conditions of Greenvale Leisure Centre staff and details of full costs associated with the transfer are not available for release at this time."

The Council will be required to meet the running costs of the centre from within it's yearly budgets.

Pulse Fitness won the contract to run the facility after the old Magherafelt Council completed a 9.2 million renovation and facelift of the facility.

The council had faced criticism for the deal as it emerged that 30 people were made redundant and staff were forced to reapply for new jobs.

In 2013, the council came in for criticism from the Northern ireland Audit Office amid claims the leisure centre may not have represented value for money for ratepayers as the costs of the centre rocketed by 125 per cent from 4.1 million to 9.2 million.

The audit office blamed a decision to install an Olympic-sized swimming pool, adaptations to changing rooms and the installation of two biomass boilers for the increase in cost.

Speaking about the Council's decision to take control of the centre, a spokesperson for the Council said: "The decision supports the Council's overall improvement agenda for leisure, prioritising the importance of harmonising service standards and pricing across all Mid-Ulster facilities, as well as ultimately ensuring all staff working in leisure will enjoy the same terms and conditions. Pulse has been notified and will now begin to ensure a smooth transition for staff and customers."

It remains to be seen how the Council, with rates for this year already struck, plans to incorporate this additional expenditure into its budget and just who will lose out as a result.


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