Stafford Borough Council

Press Release No 4617 30 October 2012

Proposals not set in Stone as experts to ask residents for views

Consultation experts are to be appointed to get the views of people in and around Stone on plans for the future of leisure facilities in the town.

Stafford Borough Council’s cabinet is expected to rubber stamp the appointment of specialists to undertake a public consultation to gauge the reaction to proposals on improving the leisure offer in the north of the borough.

A report to go before the cabinet says the cost of providing new facilities would be ‘significant’ and would need ‘widespread public support’ before going ahead with future investment. A previous independent report said facilities were nearing the end of their operational life and the town required a new sports and leisure centre and improved football pitches.

Up to £20,000 has been set aside to appoint external specialist consultants with the results being fed in to the borough wide local development plan.

The cabinet report has been submitted by Councillors Mike Smith and Frances Beatty, who are responsible for leisure, and planning and regeneration, respectively. Their report highlights Westbridge Park - with a leisure centre built in 1989 and a ‘life expectancy’ of 12 years, and a football pitch which has remained out of use for two years.

But the council’s leisure strategy for Stone, which people will be able to comment on shortly, also stresses a need for an area of open space to be set aside at Westbridge Park to accommodate a programme of community events.

Chief Executive of the borough council, Ian Thompson, said: "There is a significant cost involved in proposals to enhance the leisure offer in Stone and we want to be assured that it is what people who live and work in the north of the borough want before committing to future investment.

"I know this issue has received a lot of attention in and around Stone so I expect to see many views and comments from all sections and ages of the community who care about their area when this consultation gets underway."

He added: "We have some excellent facilities serving Stafford - with the Leisure centre and fantastic new play area in Victoria Park for example - and we want to provide a similar quality of offer in the north of our borough."

The cabinet is set to approve the appointment at a meeting next week (Tuesday 6 November) with the consultation expected in the New Year.

Keep Westbridge Park Green                    

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