Wales

Denbighshire leisure plan 'has learned lessons from Clwyd Leisure'

SC2 water park in Rhyl
Image caption Rhyl's new SC2 indoor water park would be among the attractions run by the new company

A council planning to set up a company to run its leisure centres says lessons have been learned from the collapse of a similar venture five years ago.

Senior officers say Denbighshire could save £800,000 in the first year if a not-for-profit firm ran its seven leisure centres and other attractions.

But they warn the council should keep tighter control than it did of Clwyd Leisure, which once ran the Prestatyn Nova and Rhyl Sun Centres.

The new company could launch in 2020.

Clwyd Leisure, a trust set up by Denbighshire in 2001, folded in 2014 with the loss of 120 jobs when the cabinet axed its £200,000 funding due to concerns over the way the organisation was run.

The Nova Centre in Prestatyn remained closed for nearly two years, while it was five years before the SC2 indoor water park opened in Rhyl this month as a replacement for the Sun Centre.

In a report to cabinet, officers said they wanted to reassure councillors that the authority had "learned from the Clwyd Leisure experience" in drawing up the new scheme.

It would cover a wider range of leisure centres and attractions - including Rhyl's Pavilion Theatre and the Llangollen International Pavilion - employing approximately 244 people at a cost to the council of £3m a year.

Graham Boase, corporate director for the economy and public realm, said: "This model will allow a more flexible, innovative and entrepreneurial approach to commercial leisure, whilst allowing the council to retain complete control."

Savings would come from rate relief and VAT exemptions, but he said the public would notice "very little difference".

Denbighshire's ruling Independent/Conservative coalition will be asked to back the plan at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Plaid Cymru opposition group leader Rhys Thomas said: "If savings can be achieved without outsourcing to a profit-making private company we will respond constructively to this proposal."

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