A "question mark" has been placed on the future of some leisure centres in Cornwall.

Unconfirmed reports earlier in the week suggested that Falmouth's Ships and Castles leisure centre, along with Launceston, Saltash and Wadebridge, were all at risk of closure due to funding.

Neither GLL nor Cornwall Council have confirmed or denied these locations as being at risk, despite direct questioning.

However, Cornwall Council put out a statement this morning to say that a consultation would be launched next week about the future of leisure services in Cornwall.

A spokesperson for Cornwall Council said: “Next week, Cornwall Council will launch a consultation with residents, local councils and community groups about the future of leisure services in Cornwall.

"We know that leisure facilities matter to our communities and although the pandemic has hit finances hard, our proposals will aim to provide a wide range of leisure facilities that are accessible, affordable and provide best value for money for the people who use them.

"We will ensure this is a thorough consultation where all communities can have their say and we will be very keen to hear from any community groups or organisations that may be interested in working with us.”

GLL has not commented separately to the statement, which is on behalf of both parties. 

The matter was referred to at Helston Town Council on Thursday night, when one of the town's Cornwall councillors, Mike Thomas, spoke in reference to the recent reports.

He said: "GLL does have issues and there are a number of sports leisure centres that have a question mark against their future.

"I can say that for the moment I'm confident that our own sports centre [in Helston] is in a good position, but I would urge all of us who have the capacity to take exercise to seriously consider joining.

"I'd like to see more social prescribing through our doctors' surgeries.

"Staff work very hard there to keep it open."

He also spoke of his "disappointment" that GLL had raised its discounted membership for older people from 60 to 66, "just like that."

Mr Thomas went on to speak about the consultation, saying: "There will be a consultation by Cornwall Council about what people want from their leisure centres. When that consultation is released I would hope everyone would take part, to say how much we appreciate the sports centre we have in Helston.

"Even if you don't use it you probably know somebody who does."

Local Democracy Reporter Richard Whitehouse has reported that the future of the leisure centres are said to be the subject of high-level meetings of the council’s Cabinet as it considers its budget plans for the coming year.

All four leisure centres are currently run by GLL – under the identity of Better – as part of a major outsourcing contract agreed by the council in a bid to reduce the amount of money it spends on leisure services.

But leisure centre incomes having been hit hard by their forced closure during the Covid-19 pandemic. GLL was provided with £4 million from the council to help cover its costs and ensure that leisure centres in Cornwall could reopen when restrictions were eased. That money was said to be a loan which would have to be repaid.

Cherilyn Mackrory, MP for Truro and Falmouth, where one of the alleged 'at risk' centres is based, said she and fellow MP Scott Mann had met with the Cornwall councillor responsible for leisure centres after the allegations broke.

Describing it as a "poorly put together deal" with GLL, she said: "We now find ourselves in a situation where the new Conservative administration at County Hall is having to clear up eight years of the previous administration's mess.

"This includes now having to look at the future of these leisure centres thanks to the financial black hole caused in part by these past issues.

"Myself and Scott Mann MP met with the Cornwall councillor now responsible for leisure centres, and urged him to consider every solution, including working with the community, to keep these valuable assets open for us all.

"One idea that Scott shared is that the leisure centre in Camelford is already run by a community group, and this is definitely worth exploring as an alternative operation model in other places if possible.

"I remain committed to working with all involved to ensure Cornwall has a leisure offer fit for all."