A series of virtual meetings are to take place in the coming weeks about the proposed closures of four Cornish leisure centres.

It's as Cornwall Council asks members of the public to comment on the plans to close Falmouth's Ships and Castles, and centres in Saltash, Launceston, and Wadebridge, plus a hydrotherapy pool in St Austell, unless a solution can be found.

The consultation document, published today, sets out the individual leisure centres and how the council sees them.

Ships and Castles in Falmouth

The council says it is “expensive to maintain” and has “constrained physical water space for swimming” which means that it has a limited school offer with just five schools currently using it.

It also says that the centre is only profitable in the summer months and is mainly used by tourists rather than residents. It also says there is large competition for gyms and swimming pools in the area.

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The council says that there is a need for a facility in the Falmouth and Penryn area but that the Ships and Castles site “lends itself to redevelopment to support the delivery of other council priorities”.

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

Launceston Leisure Centre

Cornwall Council says that the site is owned by a charity, Coronation Park Trust, and that the lease runs out in January 2023. It says it aims to keep the centre open until then.

The council would then hand it back to the trust and they will decide the future of the centre. They add that if the centre closes there are alternative facilities within a 30-minute radius.

Saltash Leisure Centre

The council says this has a “relatively small user base” and that the “nature of the swimming and the additional lifeguards required make it expensive to operate”.

It says it is happy to devolve the centre and services to other organisations and says that if the centre does close there are alternative facilities within a 30-minute radius such as Plymouth and Liskeard.

Wadebridge Leisure Centre

Cornwall Council says that the centre is “not central and constrained by the school site and car parking”.

It says that the catchment area is “small” and overlaps with other leisure provision including Bodmin Leisure Centre eight miles away. The council says that the majority of daytime use is by the school reducing opportunities to generate income.

The council says it is happy to explore handing the centre or services to others to operate and says that if it closes there are alternative facilities within a 30-minute radius.

Hydrotherapy pool, St Austell

The council says that there is a state of the art hydrotherapy pool at the Merlin Centre in Hewas Water and that the pool at St Austell is currently closed.

It is proposed that it will not reopen until further notice and that the council is exploring viable alternatives and working with user groups and the Merlin Centre to discuss transition arrangements.

Consultation has started today and will run until October 31. As well as an online survey the council is also holding a series of virtual meetings. These will be specific to the individual centres at risk.

READ NEXT: Here's how to have your say over the future of Cornwall's leisure centres

They are as follows (all start at 7pm):

October 6 – Falmouth Ships and Castles Leisure Centre

October 7 – Launceston Leisure Centre

October 11 – Wadebridge Leisure Centre

October 13 – Saltash Leisure Centre

October 14 – Hydrotherapy Pool, St Austell

To register for the online meetings go to letstalk.cornwall.gov.uk/leisure or email leisureconsultation@cornwall.gov.uk before noon of the day of the meeting

The questionnaire is available at letstalk.cornwall.gov.uk/leisure or to get a paper copy call 0300 1234 100.

Four centres and a pool are at risk (Image: free for use from pxhere.com)

Four centres and a pool are at risk (Image: free for use from pxhere.com)

Cllr Richard Pears, portfolio holder for Customers at Cornwall Council, said: “Leisure activities have been a lifeline for so many of us over the last 18 months – whether that’s a trip to the gym or a walk in the park, it’s so important for our mental and physical wellbeing. That’s why we’re so eager to work with residents and community groups across Cornwall to find a way to create a sustainable and fit-for-purpose leisure offering.

“However, there’s no denying that the last 18 months have been incredibly challenging, and despite support from the government we are facing some very real and very difficult financial decisions. That’s why it’s so important we have these conversations now, so we can share ideas and understand more about the services that are important to you.

“I’m confident that by working together we can find solutions to these challenges.”

James Curry, GLL’s Head of Service for Cornwall, said: “In unprecedented times, these proposed changes are very much a last resort and follow a close review of all the options for us an operator.

“As a not-for-profit charitable social enterprise we have used up our small cash reserves. We’ve been partially or fully closed for much of the last eighteen months and unable to generate the revenues needed to operate the service at sustainable levels. Centres re-opened on 12th April 2021 under ongoing restrictions, which were not lifted until July 19. With a business still operating at 75% of 2019 levels, GLL were left with no choice but to seek further support from Cornwall Council. Where our business model has previously supported the loss making Centres in Cornwall, it was regrettably not possible to do this in the current climate and meet our contractual obligations.

“We will be supporting the council’s community consultation and hope it identifies suitable and sustainable alternative operating models for these centres.”