Falmouth's Ships and Castles has been confirmed as one of four leisure centres that could close as early as next year.

The dates have been revealed in a public consultation launched earlier today by Cornwall Council, into the future of the Duchy's leisure centres.

The majority of Cornwall’s facilities are currently run by the non-profit social enterprise GLL, which operates under the Better brand.

GLL manages 13 leisure centres on behalf of Cornwall Council, but closures during lockdown periods and reduced visitor numbers have had a significant impact on its income over the last 18 months, creating losses of approximately £4.5 million.

Cornwall Council confirmed earlier today, as it launched a consultation on all leisure facilities in Cornwall, that after discussions GLL had requested either a change to its current contract – which would mean it stops operating four leisure centres in Saltash, Launceston, Wadebridge and Ships and Castles in Falmouth, along with the hydrotherapy pool at the centre in St Austell – or for Cornwall Council to subsidise these facilities.


Previously the council had refused to confirm or deny the rumours of specific centres.

More detail has now been given in the consultation document itself, in which the council says it proposes looking for the town councils in those areas, or community groups, to offer a solution, saying it was "ready to work closely" with anyone coming forward.

However, if no solution could be found it warned that the facilities would close, as early as next year.

Should no alternative become apparent, it said the Falmouth, Saltash and Wadebridge leisure centres would close on March 31, 2022 and Launceston Leisure Centre from January 2023, while the hydrotherapy pool at St Austell Leisure Centre, which is currently not open, would simply not reopen.


The council said: "To safeguard the operation of the majority of leisure centres in Cornwall, we propose to remove the contractual requirements on GLL to operate the four leisure centres in Wadebridge, Launceston, Saltash and Falmouth, and the operation of the hydrotherapy pool at St Austell leisure centre.

"We have experience in Cornwall of working with local communities to help them manage assets and services. We are ready to work closely with any local councils or community groups that believe they could offer a solution capable of making some of these facilities financially viable and to explore other sustainable alternatives.

"However, if no solution or alternative is found, these facilities would close

"Saltash, Wadebridge and Falmouth leisure centres would close on March 31, 2022 and Launceston Leisure Centre from January 2023.

"The hydrotherapy pool at St Austell Leisure Centre is currently not open. It is proposed the pool will not re-open until further notice, whilst we are exploring if viable alternatives are available and work with user groups and the Merlin Centre to discuss transition arrangements.

"We remain open to discussing and considering other options."

It then asks anyone responding to the consultation "To what extent do you agree or disagree that the proposed changes to the current arrangements will help improve the viability and sustainability of the overall offer?"

It goes on to add: "There is a continued need for a leisure facility in the Falmouth and Penryn area and we will be working with our partners to explore opportunities in the area.

"The Falmouth Ships and Castles site lends itself to redevelopment to support the delivery of other council priorities. However, opportunities will be explored to combine redevelopment and leisure facilities.

"Should the centre close, we believe alternative provision is available within a 30 minute radius, including elsewhere in Falmouth or alternatively in Helston and Carn Brea."

You can read the draft strategy and complete the survey anonymously on the Let’s Talk Cornwall website.

Paper copies are available on request by calling 0300 1234 100.

To submit your views, fill out the consultation questionnaire and make sure it reaches Cornwall Council by midnight on October 31, 2021 at the latest.