T4R as a group are fully aware of the depth of feeling surrounding the decision by Cabinet to close the Catmose leisure centre and the lack of consideration given to the many individual users of the Centre as well as the 17 organised groups that use it on a regular basis.
Through the Scrutiny process, where members of the Council consider proposed actions of the Cabinet and Officers, a cross-party group has been involved in reviewing the options and were presented with the alternatives. Originally in April 2022, Scrutiny recommended a cost-neutral solution position which has been the basis of the contract with the existing provider, Stevenage Leisure. The options for a new leisure contract were further reviewed in December 2022. Unfortunately, the recommendations from Scrutiny to Cabinet at that time are treated as exempt, in other words, cannot be disclosed for commercial reasons but were reported in the papers for the Cabinet meeting in January 2023, at which the decision to close the facility was decided. What we can say, based on the recommendation made, the decision was not in line with the December recommendations, and no reasons have been provided as to why the recommendations were ignored.
As a Group, we recognise the depth of feeling and know that a leisure facility is essential for health, well-being and for the young people in our community. It is also essential for GP referrals, and in a town with dwindling activities for young people, this will create a huge hole.
We have to put residents first. We are without doubt in difficult times, but having seen the options, we strongly feel there was an alternative solution which could have been seriously considered, but we are unable to explain why due to the confidential nature of the information.