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Future plans for Bell’s Sports Centre in Perth could be revealed this summer

Live Active Leisure went before the local authority's scrutiny committee on Wednesday.

Bell's Sports Centre. Image: Steve MacDougall/DC Thomson
Bell's Sports Centre. Image: Steve MacDougall/DC Thomson

Plans for the future of Bell’s Sports Centre could be revealed in August when the next proposal for a new Perth leisure facility goes before councillors.

The popular North Inch facility is set to close in August after Live Active Leisure (LAL) and Perth and Kinross Council agreed to shut the facility after it was flooded last year.

The decision, which was taken with no community consultation, was met with a huge backlash from both the public and sports groups.

When questioned at a council scrutiny committee on Wednesday, LAL chief executive Paul Cromwell chose not to answer if there had been any thoughts on the future use of the facility.

Bell’s Sports Centre after it flooded in October. Image: Kenny Smith/DC Thomson

However, the local authority’s director of strategy, people and resources, Clare Mailer, stepped in to say that options for the sports centre could become known in August when fresh proposals to merge Bell’s, Perth Leisure Pool and Dewars Centre come forward.

‘Considerations are currently under way’

The plans to combine the three sports centres in Perth is known within the local authority as PH20.

A proposal for the facility was rejected in January as it did not feature leisure swimming or an ice rink.

Ms Mailer said: “Considerations are currently under way in terms of the future of Bell’s Sports Centre.

“Committee members will be aware that we are bringing the PH20 plans to council in August of this year.

“I would anticipate that in that report we will have a bit of a steer in terms of the future of Bell’s.”

Wednesday’s meeting was the first time Live Active Leisure had been before the scrutiny committee since the decision was taken to close Bell’s.

Despite the opportunity, no councillor took the chance to question LAL’s chairperson or chief executive on the organisation’s decision not to hold community consultations or consultations with groups at risk of discrimination.

An update report by LAL regarding the closure of Bell’s was given to committee members but not published by the local authority before the meeting.

Council must make decision, says LAL chairman

LAL chairman David MacLehose took the opportunity to urge councillors to make a final decision on the overall new leisure facility in August.

The leisure boss said his organisation had been existing in a position of uncertainty  from well before Bell’s flooded last October.

Live Active Leisure chairman David MacLehose.

“LAL has been in a period of transition and uncertainty not only for the last 18 months but for the last two years,” said Mr McLehose.

“I sincerely hope at the council meeting in August, which is just around the corner now, a decision can be taken on which way we go on PH20.

“Either it’s going to be funded or it’s not going to be funded, or it’s going to be at one site or whatever it is, because then we can start working on an objective.”

The chairman’s comments on funding are curious as a large part of LAL’s reasoning for closing Bell’s was that the merging of the three facilities into one complex had already been agreed in January.

Mr MacLehose also appeared to insinuate that the final decision on what would become of Bell’s, as part of either the merger or shutting down, was still open for debate.

He said: “Bell’s isn’t just a loved centre, it has always been a very useful centre.

“On a personal basis I was sorry, because of the way things happened, it wasn’t part of things going forward – but that may change.”

As part of The Courier’s Protect Perth Leisure campaign, we want to see an ambitious facility built in the city which caters for the needs of all sports and groups.

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