Trust urged to attend public meeting over planned cuts to leisure centre opening hours

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Fife Sports and Leisure Trust has been urged to attend a public meeting to address concerns about cuts to leisure centre opening times.

The organisation announced last week that it would be cutting the opening hours at Cupar Leisure Centre and East Sands Leisure Centre, citing budget pressures.

The trust claims the fee it receives from Fife Council means it will not be able to maintain the existing services. Cupar Leisure Centre will see a reduction of 12 hours and East Sands Leisure Centre a reduction of nine hours. The changes are expected to save around £84,000.

However, MP Stephen Gethins said he has been ‘inundated’ with letters and emails regarding the planned cuts, and has called on trust chief executive Ed Watson to attend a public meeting and explain the decision.

Mr Gethins said: “I hope he or a representative of the trust will take me up on my offer of meeting with constituents before the intended date for these changes, which is October 19. We must work together to find a way forward so that people in north east Fife can continue to enjoy the same level of service and not lose out.”

Mr Gethins had received concerns from both Cupar Soccer Sevens and Step Rock, the amateur swimming club.

Cupar Colts and Soccer Sevens use the all-weather pitches at the leisure centre, with some of its evening sessions running until 8.30pm or 9pm. The club warned that the cuts would have a “significant impact on our ability to deliver football coaching to the youth of Cupar”.

Local politicians have also called for the decision to be reconsidered. Cllr Linda Holt said Fife Council should be “protecting” the facilities, adding: “This decision raises serious questions about the relationship between Fife Council and the trust. It needs a rethink before the public loses even more services.”

Cllr Judy Hamilton said Fife Council was working with the trust to ensure it is able to manage within the budget and had stressed the importance of monitoring the changes and changing them if required.

Cllr Brian Thomson criticised the lack of a public consultation and criticised the Scottish Government for the cuts it has imposed on the council. The changes would be a “backward step”, according to Cllr Jane Ann Liston. She called for a rethink of the plans, in consultation with the users and clubs.

Wendy Watson, chief operating officer at the trust, said it had followed “all necessary protocols in carrying out the redesign of services”. She added: “As a charitable trust, Fife Sports and Leisure Trust has an obligation to ensure its organisation can provide sustainable sports and leisure facilities for the wider community to enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits associated with physical activity.”

The trust said it would contact Mr Gethins with regards to his invitation.

Cupar Leisure Centre (12 hours cut from opening times)

Monday – 7am to 9 pm

Tuesday – 9am to 10pm

Wednesday – 9am to 9pm

Thursday – 9am to 10pm

Friday – 7am to 8pm

Saturday and Sunday – 8am to 2.30pm

East Sands Leisure Centre (nine hours cut from opening times)

Monday – 8am to 10pm

Tuesday – 7am to 9pm

Wednesday – 8am to 9pm

Thursday – 7am to 10pm

Friday – 9am to 9pm

Saturday and Sunday – 8am to 2.30pm