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Three Southwell Leisure Centre trustees were elected at town council meeting

A non-council member was elected as a Southwell Leisure Centre trustee following a debate sparked by the ongoing town pool saga.

Southwell Town Council held its annual meeting on Wednesday (May 15), in which councillors voted to appoint members to the authority’s leadership roles and committees, including trustees for the leisure centre.

The council appointed John Lightwood, Phil Barron and Andrew Wilson, who is independent of the council.

Southwell Leisure Centre.
Southwell Leisure Centre.

The decision follows pressure from members of the public who felt the need to have more representation in decisions regarding Southwell Leisure Centre and its swimming pool.

Last Tuesday (May 14), Newark and Sherwood District Council cabinet voted in line to axe the allocation of £5.5 million set aside to fund a new main pool, learner pool, and associated changing facilities in Southwell.

Peter Brooker suggested appointing three residents as the new trustees of the Leisure Centre — however other councillors disagreed due to the potential lack of legal representation and knowledge.

As the meeting takes place next week, the council also felt the need to act quickly.

Jo Harbord, a member of Friends of Southwell Swimming pool (FOSS), said: “You are planning to re-appoint the same three trustees that are there right now.

“When actually what you could do tonight is nominate three new independent trustees that can draw a line under what has happened.

“They can draw a line and just work on the best outcome for this town, we have made our bed and we have to lie in it.

“Getting the old chair of the trustees to try and negotiate with somebody they already don’t have a relationship with is not the answer.”

Steve Perry said there was a ‘pitfall’ in not having town councillors on the board, with the council having a ‘responsibility’.

He added: “I would propose that we hold one as a town council and we offer an issue, initially someone who is known to some of the councillors, but someone who is not on the council to be elected on as a trustee.”

Peter Brooker said: “My feeling is that we should have a team break, because the trustees are now going to have to negotiate with the district council to extract the approval for them to adapt and release.”

He said there was ‘too much distrust’ between the existing trustees and the district council.

Jo added that the governance structure of the trust is unfit for purpose.

Council chairman Martin Stott suggest deferring the nomination of trustees for the leisure centre, however members of the public and councillors agreed that it would be best to elect at least one of the trustees.

Jeremy Berridge, Peter Harris and Karen Roberts will host the meeting at Southwell Rugby Club on Wednesday, May 22 to seek views of the public on the future of the leisure centre.

Peter Harris was keen on electing the trustees ahead of that date.

He said: “It's absolutely fundamental we have three trustees who will meet on Monday at the extraordinary meeting to take forward the appointment of the fourth trustee that we've already agreed on the screen of administration that needs to be appointed.

“Without that, nothing will happen.”

It was considered appointing two councillors and advertising a position for a member of the public on social media, however, the councillors came to an agreement.

Peter Brooke nominated John Lightwood, Phil Barron and Andrew Wilson, which was seconded by Peter Harris and approved by the majority of the council.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below…

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