On Wednesday evening 27 October I had a very detailed discussion with Kimberley School (East Midlands Education Trust) on behalf of local residents and leisure centre users, to try and get some clarity on the future of the Leisure Centre in Kimberley.

The meeting was not hostile and conducted in a candid, professional and non confrontational manner.

I received 27 questions from members of the public & a statement I had been asked to deliver – click on:

1Questions for EMET (2) & statement 

I have done my best to summarise accurately the outcome of the discussions below.

I have since spoken with Broxtowe Borough Council and they confirm that negotiations are still very much ongoing, with final decisions being made on what the future of leisure provision in Kimberley, after April next year will look like, by the end of next month (December).

I trust that the information provided below is useful.

 

Richard S Robinson
Independent Borough Cllr (Kimberley) – Broxtowe Borough Council

8 November 2021

 

  • The school’s view is that the Joint Use Agreement (JUA) is not compatible with the provision of high quality education for the young people in the local community see: Kimberley School statement_29.09.21 Indeed, JUA’s are ending across Nottinghamshire – this is nothing new.
  • For the reasons set out in the Head Teachers’ letter, the school needs the building back (see Head Teacher letter – link above). However, the school is aware that Broxtowe Borough Council do not have an alternative site for leisure provision at the moment and so they are trying to find transitional arrangements that allow this. The school do understand that this is an unsettling time for the community and in particular the staff at the Leisure Centre. Together with Liberty Leisure and Broxtowe Borough Council they have formed a joint planning group who are exploring models for continuing to facilitate community access to the facilities. However, there is no hiding the fact that negotiations can be complex and whilst there may be no consensus at present for example about access during the school day, these issues are not insurmountable and all sides are working hard to try and find workable solutions without any return to the outdated joint use agreement.
  • The school does not believe (as some have suggested) that there has been a breakdown in communications and they are continuing to work closely together with Broxtowe Borough Council and Liberty Leisure in order to find some workable and realistic opportunities for leisure provision in Kimberley to continue.
  • The school understands that Broxtowe Borough Council are currently exploring accessing levelling up funding to enhance community leisure and sporting provision.  If Broxtowe Borough Council do want to target some of this funding and enhancing the current facilities on the school site then the school would be happy to support this as long it is not detrimental to the provision of a high quality education for students.
  • The school and Liberty Leisure are currently working together in a very proactive and positive manner. It would be counterproductive and may harm relationships for either party to dwell on any past decisions, actions or inactions at this stage.
  • A general point about joint use agreements is that other local districts have moved totally away from this method of delivering leisure and recreation.
  • The reasons for the school taking back control of the land and building have nothing to do with finance, it is to do with additional space and better provision for the 1400 students on site every day at Kimberley School.  The Head Teacher letter (see above) to parents outlines the reasons for the decision.
  • The school are currently reviewing all aspects of the swimming programme, they have spoken to local swimming clubs and reassured them that access will continue as normal outside school hours, they have contacted the LA School Swimming Service to gain their feedback and to stress that no party wants to reduce school swimming access. However, the delivery model for all of this is to be determined once the review is completed. Additionally, a conditions survey of the swimming pool is yet to be completed.
  • The school would potentially have full access to the space provided by taking back the building. There is an important distinction between what the space is currently used as and what it might be used for in the future.
  • If the centre remains open to the public out of school hours do they plan on giving them free use or concessionary rates if they are students of the school?
    No decisions have been taken in relation to this. It would be detailed in any amended School Lettings Policy.
  • What are the plans regarding the youth club that runs in the complex in the evenings? This is managed under a separate agreement with Nottinghamshire County Council.
  • There has been a relatively small number of people contacting us expressing concern about the access to the facilities during the school day. The planning group has been made aware of these concerns. As soon as there is a clear plan for community access the school will communicate this with all concerned.
    However, the fundamental reason for the decision is to increase space for the teaching of children, not only in terms of PE and Sport but for general classroom space and other educational provision. There are 1400 students on site every day and they should be entitled to high quality facilities and provision for educational uses.
  • The school do acknowledge the uncertainty this decision has caused to both staff and the local community. However, the short term pain of this may lead to longer term gain if Broxtowe Borough Council secure a suitable site for a brand new state of the art leisure centre with additional facilities still available at Kimberley School.
  • As stated previously the School and Liberty Leisure continue to work proactively to seek medium term solutions. The school will update the community once this work is completed.