Councillors call for emergency meeting to discuss shock closure of GL1 leisure centre

1 Oct 2023
Councillors Jeremy Hilton, Declan Wilson and Anne Radley discuss the shock closure of the GL1 leisure centre

Councillors have called for an extraordinary general meeting of the city council to discuss the shock closure of the GL1 leisure centre.

The Liberal Democrats have written to the Mayor and the managing director of Gloucester City Council demanding an emergency meeting is held for councillors to examine the issue.

The GL1 leisure centre and Oxstalls tennis centre closed suddenly on September 29 with the loss of more than 150 jobs after charitable trust Aspire went into liquidation.

Councillor Jeremy Hilton, leader of Gloucester Liberal Democrats, said: “The next meeting of the city council is not due to be held until November 16.

“That is simply too long to wait for councillors to be able to quiz the Conservative administration about what has gone wrong.

“Under the council’s constitution an EGM can be held if five councillors ask for one and the Liberal Democrats have written to the council asking for one.

“The residents of Gloucester deserve answers and cannot be without these facilities for a year.

“Yet again the Conservative administration has been sleepwalking into another financial disaster that the taxpayers of Gloucester will end up paying for.”

The Lib Dems have already tabled a motion for November’s full council meeting calling on council bosses to directly employ the staff to reopen the two sports centres as soon as possible.

They were being run by the trust on behalf of Gloucester City Council and it is feared they might not reopen for a year, which Liberal Democrat councillors say is unacceptable.

It means the Bruton Way gym and swimming pool will be out of action, along with the tennis courts, outdoor sports pitches and all other Aspire-run facilities at Oxstalls.

Sports clubs, such as Gloucester City Swimming Club, have been left in the cold as have many private coaching sessions.

“GL1 and the Oxstalls tennis centre provide vital sports facilities for thousands of people across the city and it is simply unacceptable they may be closed for a year,” said Councillor Hilton.

“This motion calls on the Conservatives to get both sports centres reopened as soon as possible.

“If another contractor cannot be found to run the facilities immediately the council should employ its own management team and staff to do the job.”

Liberal Democrat councillors have raised concerns about the Aspire for some time now as it has been known the trust has been in financial difficulty for several years.

Councillor Sebastian Field, Liberal Democrat culture and leisure spokesman, added: “For too long the city council has got other people to run things they ought to have been running themselves.

“This is a failure of the Conservative administration. They knew that Aspire was in difficulties, and Liberal Democrat councillors have been asking questions about the financial picture for many months.

“The Conservatives should have been on top of this and had contingencies in place.”

– Motion on leisure and sports facilities

“This council notes the closure of city council leisure and sports facilities following the collapse of Aspire Sports and Cultural Trust that operated GL1 Leisure Centre and the Oxstalls Tennis Centre on the council’s behalf.

This council agrees that the public and users of these sports facilities should not have to wait 12 months before they are reopened.

This council calls on the administration to reopen these facilities as early as possible using staff directly employed by the city council if necessary.”

Proposed by Jeremy Hilton