'Cornwall's children deserve better than this': Residents comment on why they want leisure centres saved

By Joseph Macey

16th Nov 2021 | Local News

Thousands of people have signed a petition calling for Cornwall Council to allow all councillors to debate and vote on the possible closure of leisure facilities.

The petition, launched by Independent councillors, is now halfway to its target of 5,000 signatures which would mean it has to be debated at full council.

Cornwall Council is currently considering the closure of leisure centres in Falmouth, Launceston, Saltash and Wadebridge as well as the hydrotherapy pool in St Austell.

It comes after operator GLL said that it could no longer keep the facilities open without subsidy. The council's Cabinet has said that it has no funds available for leisure services and they are not a statutory service.

A final decision on the issue is due to be taken by the Cabinet in December but Independent councillors are pressing for it to be debated by all councillors and have a vote on it.

The petition launched this week has already gathered more than 2,500 signatures, halfway to the figure of 5,000 needed for it to be debated at full council.

Many people who have signed the petition have also added comments to the webpage on why they support the campaign.

Beth Caudle said:

"This is incredibly short-sighted and would be detrimental to the health and well being of all local residents. These leisure centres are vital to the well being and health of residents young and old. Without them these communities will have no accessible leisure facilities to learn to swim, to take part in sports activities and the vital health and social benefits these activities bring.

"When I think of my childhood growing up in one of these areas, without my local leisure centre I would have missed out on huge numbers of vital opportunities to develop skills, socialise and connect with my community. This should never be up for debate and it is imperative that the full council discuss this alarming proposal."

And Caroline Gilbert said:

"Everyone growing up in Cornwall needs to learn to swim. We need pools for physical fitness and swimming clubs. As a teacher, we cannot find pool time and this is not good enough – please keep them open."

Paul Nicholls commented:

"Exercise and the joy of swimming not only can save your life, it can greatly enhance it, from the cradle into old age. Cornwall fought hard to get the centres in the first place as a legacy forever. The money spent will keep people fitter longer and help the NHS and the mental wellbeing of all."

Philippa Mayland directed her comment to Cornwall Council saying:

"Cornwall's children deserve better than this. They must have access to sports facilities but vital that they learn to swim. All the previous district authorities recognised this and provided Cornwall with these facilities. You have no right or mandate to close them."

Martin Williams added:

"I am a regular user of several Cornwall leisure centres, and a former employee. I have seen first-hand the positive impact these facilities have on all sectors of the Cornish community. Losing them would be nothing short of catastrophic."

And Callum Brown said:

"I worked at several leisure centres in Cornwall over a span of 11 years. They are an integral part of many people's social, physical and mental being. Not to mention their daily lives. People may go in so so but usually leave feeling better, even if only getting to say hello to a friendly face. We need to encourage more to be active and healthy in these days more than ever.

"Keep our facilities open."

Evelyn White said:

"My children, now adults, all benefited from swimming lessons at Launceston leisure centre. Two of them represented Cornwall in Sheffield. I am not a confident swimmer as we didn't have a pool nearby where I grew up. We should have facilities nearby so all children can learn to swim. Cornwall is surrounded by water after all."

Debenie Morse commented on the possible closure of the hydrotherapy pool, saying:

"It's important for everyone in Cornwall, young and old to have access to leisure and exercise to stay physically and mentally healthy. The hydrotherapy pool in St Austell has really helped many with health problems, including my mother with MS."

And Alex Harris said:

"It is ridiculous to consider closing these pools and fitness centres. The long term effects will put increased pressure on the NHS on both a mental and physical level. In addition the potential loss of life through drowning as local children will not be able to learn to swim and lifeguards/RNLI unable to train in their local area. The trip from Polzeath to Bodmin is well over 30 mins and that's if you can book a place!"

Pam Tunbridge said:

"I work in a leisure centre as a swimming teacher and lifeguard. Cornwall is on the coast for God's sake, swimming is a life-saving and fun activity. These places are great social venues too for all age groups, not everyone wants to, or can go to a pub or club. Use some common sense."

To sign the petition click here.

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