Leisure centre facing £650,000 upgrades and repairs to close

Clackmannanshire Council has agreed to shut Alloa Leisure Bowl and end a management agreement with Wasp Leisure Limited.

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A leisure centre facing £650,000 worth of upgrades and repairs is to close after more than three decades in business.

On Thursday, Clackmannanshire Council agreed to shut Alloa Leisure Bowl and end a management agreement with Wasp Leisure Limited (WLL) to run the facility.

The move comes after extensive property surveys of the building identified substantial upgrade and maintenance costs, including modifications to ensure a Covid-safe operating environment.

In a report by Stuart Crickmar, strategic director of partnership and performance, councillors were advised: “Known recommissioning and ongoing building compliance and essential maintenance works to date are estimated at approximately £650,000 over the next five years, with a significant proportion required in year one. 

“The building has no windows for natural ventilation; therefore, creating a Covid-19 safe building will require ventilation assessment and additional measures.”

Recent survey work also highlighted that the council could be looking at a £1.1m bill for replacement/repair costs should the ageing plant, heating and ventilation systems fail.

The contract with WLL was originally due to end in 2019 after ten years, however it was extended until March 2021 subject to the council reaching an agreement with the company.

Negotiations were continuing when Covid-19 hit in March last year.

Alloa Leisure Bowl has remained closed throughout the pandemic, however the council said it has continued to make monthly payments in full to WLL.

Due to the “prolonged and increasingly uncertain Covid-19 closure”, as well as the escalating property costs, the council agreed that continuing operations at Alloa Leisure Bowl “no longer represents best value”.

A report will now be brought before councillors as soon as possible and will detail proposals for future leisure provision in Clacks.

It will include options for the long-term as well as interim arrangements, including access to swimming as Covid-19 restrictions permit.

Councillor Craig Holden, place committee convenor, said: “This was not an easy decision but one that was necessary given unsustainable costs in the face of an uncertain operating environment.

“Health and wellbeing rests at the heart of the council’s transformation programme, and as such, we will be bringing options to council as a priority to ensure that our leisure facilities are sustainable and can meet community need into the long-term. This will include access to swimming options. 

“The council extends its appreciation to WLL for its operation of the Leisure Bowl for the last ten years, and hope that both organisations can continue to work together in some form in the future to promote and develop active living opportunities for local residents.”

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