New options not expected to be needed to save West Lothian Leisure

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West Lothian Council has options for its arms length leisure trust if a newly agreed rescue plan fails.

Chief executive, Graham Hope, told councillor Chris Horne the council theoretically had three options – none of which were expected to be used.

West Lothian Leisure (WLL), which runs swimming pools and sports centres, has faced hardship since 2016 due to increased private sector competition.

The council has agreed a financial re-profiling deal with the trust to help meet  redundancy costs. Hours have already been reduced across the service.

At a meeting of the council’s Risk and Governance committee the WLL finanical picture still scored a red light as a high risk.

Councillor Horne said: “We are heartened that West Lothian Leisure is moving in the right direction but  the issue here is risk. It still sits at high risk here so what does that mean for us?”

Donald Forrest, head of Finance, said: “We would expect that risk to be reducing and we are hopeful that  the risk can be re-scored during the year.”

He added: “West Lothian Leisure did operate for a number of years without financial problems. They now have what appears to be a robust plan in place. That risk will continue to come down. There are always contingencies in place.”

”What’s our view should they not deliver?”  asked Councillor Horne.

Mr Hope responded: “I would support what the head of Finance has said, but theoretically there are options were there to be a failure.

“Firstly the board itself is not synonymous with the organisation. It would be up to the council to appoint a new board.

“A second option would be to appoint a third party organisation to take on the activities and the third option would be for these activities to revert to the council.

“We are not looking at any of these at the moment and don’t expect to.”

Stuart Sommerville - Local Democracy Reporter