STATEMENT BY INDEPENDENT COUNCILLOR BRIAN WILSON CONDEMNING TONIGHT’S DECISION BY NORTH DOWN COUNCIL TO PRIVATISE BANGOR LEISURE CENTRE
I am particularly disappointed that the Council has refused to listen to the concerns of its staff. Regardless of its final decision to privatise Bangor Leisure Centre the councillors should have at least had the courtesy to hear the concerns of its employees some of whom have served the Council for many years.
I am not convinced that the privatisation of Bangor Leisure Centre is the best way forward. Indeed the difference in costs between the in-house comparator and the three private bids was extremely small.
As a result of this decision we will lose much of the control of the day to day running, opening hours, concession charges etc. and the staff will have their career prospects severely limited.
I would have thought that the recent Olympic fiasco where the private firm G4S could not deliver the security and the public sector (army) had to be brought in would have made some councillors question whether the private sector is always best.
Also North Down Council’s experience with the private sector has not been particularly reassuring when one considers the building of the square ice rink in Bangor in the 1980’s. We were also assured by council officers there was no risk to the Council and all councillors apart for myself voted for it.
A year later the private company went bust and the council was left with a white elephant shed and the rate payers had to pick up a bill for half a million pounds.
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Brian, has this decision been made? Is Private sector going to manage the new leisure complex? If this is the case I am very disappointed. What do we pay our rates for if not for discounted amenities in our area?