Progressive Group welcome Labour U-turn on leisure services

The Progressive group of councillors on Exeter City Council have welcomed a U-turn by the ruling Labour group which will see the city’s leisure facilities brought back under council control. The current leisure contract runs out in September, and the Council has decided in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, to bring the services back in-house.

Exeter Green Party have long called for the new Sidwell Point swimming pool development to be operated by Exeter City Council rather than being outsourced. They also challenged the Labour-led council to bring other leisure services back under council control [1].

Responding to the announcement, Green Party councillor Diana Moore, said:

“This is a welcome U-turn from Labour. Greens have long argued that leisure services should be run directly by the Council, not outsourced. It would be nice to think this is a genuine change of heart by Labour, not just a decision prompted by a global pandemic.

“The city’s leisure facilities have been run down over many years forcing the Council to invest millions in repairs. Eye-watering amounts are also being invested in St Sidwell’s Point and the Labour Council should never have even contemplated handing over the keys to a private operator. These are valuable city assets, which are vital to promoting the health of residents in Exeter. They should be owned and operated by the Council with any profits redirected into supporting essential public services in the city.” 

The leader of the Progressive Group, Liberal Democrat councillor Kevin Mitchell, said:

“We welcome the Council taking this opportunity to build back our city in a different way. This move is clearly the right thing to do at this challenging time for our city. It will help secure jobs at a time when our economy is under great strain and protect our vital leisure services.”

Independent Councillor for Newtown, Jemima Moore, concluded:

The city’s sports facilities are much loved and are too valuable to lose. I hope that, by bringing them under the control of the Council, we can see them survive this time of uncertainty and continue to serve the needs of our communities into the future. We would also hope that under council management there will be improved working conditions for those employed in this sector.”


[1] See: Greens call for the new leisure centre to be Council run rather than ‘lining shareholders’ pockets.

Also: Open letter from Exeter Green Party on the bus and coach station development site – see final section: Keep running of new pool in-house


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