Green Councillor votes against £7m uplift for leisure centre

22 July 2017

Green Party councillor, Chris Musgrave, tonight voted against a £7m uplift to the leisure centre budget. The steep rise was supported by all Labour councillors at an extraordinary full City Council meeting this evening, Wednesday 19th July, but opposed by Conservative councillors, Lib Dem councillor Kevin Mitchell, as well as Mr Musgrave.

Cllr Musgrave refused to support the increase, citing concerns over further increases in costs in the future and the absence of an adequate business case, putting at risk the long term viability of the scheme. The Green Party also oppose the private operation of the leisure centre, believing it should be run in-house by the Council [1].

Cllr Musgrave said:

“In principle, the Green Party in Exeter back the construction of a new leisure centre. We are particularly supportive of the decision to construct the building to environmentally friendly passivhaus standards and make it affordable for residents on lower incomes. 

“However, this swimming pool cannot be a bottomless pit. A project originally estimated to cost £20m has now hit £40m and rising. The Council’s sums simply do not add up to demonstrating how this project represents value for money. Neither have they presented a watertight business case for this venture, and until they do so, Greens cannot approve a further uplift in the budget for this scheme.”

Mr Musgrave also told councillors attending the meeting of his concerns over construction and operation contracts. He said:

“I was advised that the decision to privatise the operation of the leisure centre, was predicated on a view that a private operator would have, and I quote, a ‘less risk-adverse attitude to health and safety and a more corporate approach to pay and performance management’. I’ll translate that…: the Labour administration is actively pursuing a policy of privatisation that they know will place workers, and members of the public at greater risk, because of poorer Health & Safety risk control, whilst simultaneously saving money by taking money out of leisure workers’ pockets.”

Cllr Musgrave went on to say:

“We also oppose the decision to offer a lucrative construction contract to a firm known to support the despicable practice of blacklisting known and suspected unionised workers across the construction industry.”

After much heated debate during the extraordinary meeting held at the Guild hall, the £7m uplift for the leisure centre and bus station redevelopment was voted through by 24 votes to 10 against.

Notes

[1] https://exeter.greenparty.org.uk/news/2017/03/23/greens-use-full-council-meeting-to-reaffirm-call-for-in-house-operation-of-leisure-centre/

Contacts:

Councillor Chris Musgrave 07872 301974

Diana Moore 07903 932 214