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Newark and Sherwood District Council cabinet members talk about the legal delays that Southwell Leisure Centre new facility is facing

Plans to build a new £5.5m swimming facility are facing legal delays.

Newark and Sherwood District Council approved the new facility in December last year.

The decision followed the closure of the leisure centre’s main pool in October after main defects were found, which would cost the council an estimated £645,435.00 to repair.

Southwell Leisure Centre. Photo: Newark and Sherwood District Council.
Southwell Leisure Centre. Photo: Newark and Sherwood District Council.

Southwell Leisure Centre Trust owns the centre but the council took over the centre under a 25-year lease as the Trust couldn't afford to maintain the centre.

The new proposed facility is on land on Nottingham Road, which is also owned by the Trust.

The works on the new facility haven't started as the council has been waiting for the land transfer to be confirmed with Southwell Leisure Centre since December.

The Trust said that they can’t transfer the land without the approval of the Charity Commission as it is required for the disposal of charitable assets and further complicated lease relationships between the Trust and Council.

At a Cabinet meeting on February 20, the council said not to have changed their position to build the new facility, however, they are ready to commence the works as soon as the Trust agrees to it.

Council leader Paul Peacock said that the council was committed to the residents of Southwell to build the new swimming pool and that their commitment stand firm.

He said: “We want to work alongside the Trustees at Southwell Leisure Centre Trust to make sure that happens and we want to do it as soon as possible.

“We have got everything on the starting blocks, we’ve got a team in place.

“To do that, we need cooperation from trustees so we can set that work in motion.

“The next step means spending money and I don’t want this council to spend money until the trustees can commit to working in conjunction with us to get this swimming pool up and running.”

Southwell Leisure Centre, Southwell.
Southwell Leisure Centre, Southwell.

In December, the council provided a timescale of two years for the completion of the facility, however, that period comes from the starting point of the works, which is under the control of the trustees.

Cabinet member Keith Melnton, who is also one of the leisure centre’s trustees said: “What we are doing is to request Southwell Leisure Centre Trust to agree to make a joint submission to the charity’s commission.

“We think that is the eminently suitable position and we would want to include Southwell Town Council as well so that it is a joint venture and everybody benefits as quickly as possible.”

“I may be over-optimistic, but I see everything in place to take this forward.”

The council says that despite the delays to the works, all parties share the same objectives, which include ensuring the district council has sufficient control and protection for its proposed and ongoing investment in the centre, recognising and enabling meaningful community involvement in the running of the centre.

This also includes protecting future use of the land in the Trust’s ownership for the sole purpose of fulfilling the current charitable objectives and enabling as swift progress as possible to secure delivery of a new pool.

Officers have sought external legal advice and the Trust has approached the Charity Commission for support about how best to move forward.

The Trust is set to meet on February 27 and will be asked to formally ratify the above objectives, to agree to make a joint submission to the Charity Commission with the Council to transfer the land and to confirm its support for a replacement main pool and in doing so no longer pursue a repair option.

Cabinet member Rowan Cozens said: “Our position as a council hasn’t changed.

“We want what is best for our residents and we committed this £5.5m before Christmas and we are still in that position and would very much like to move forward.

“There has been some misinformation about so I would urge everybody to follow what is on our website which updates you and gives you all the information and hopefully we will be successful and providing a wonderful new facility for of our residents to use in the district.”

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