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Flintshire County Council criticised for installing £80,000 gym at County Hall, Mold

FLINTSHIRE County Council has come under fire for installing an £80,000 gym for staff at County Hall.

The physical activity room, which opened in May, can be used by the 1,400 county council staff based in Mold in their own time, as well as staff from other council offices at set hours.

But critics have said the money would have been better spent subsidising membership at independent or council-run gyms, which are feeling the effects of the global economic downturn, and on improving existing leisure facilities.

Labour’s Aaron Shotton, leader of the opposition, said: “At a time when our leisure centres are in dire need of investment the council leadership has decided to waste £80,000 on a gym that is closed to the general public.

“Why are council employees not being encouraged to use Flintshire leisure centres through incentive schemes?”

Connah’s Quay councillor Bernie Attridge said: “I am appalled that the county council has allowed this exclusive gym to be installed in County Hall at a time when leisure centres are struggling. In Connah’s Quay, the leisure centre is closed on Saturdays and Sundays as there are no staff. That means football teams can’t hire pitches.

“The money could have been better spent on our leisure centres.

“Heads should roll over this waste of public money.”

Paul Taylor, owner of PT Fitness independent gym in Mold, said: “I am not averse to companies encouraging their employees to stay fit, but I feel it is a bit of snub at independent gyms when we already have a local authority gym in the Alun School Mold, which has an unfair advantage over the independents as local authority gyms are VAT exempt, which means they can give a 15% discount.”

Mike Hornby, head of leisure services said: “A physical activity room was provided in support of a Welsh Assembly Government policy initiative begun in early 2008.

“The Assembly has provided funding to the Sports Council for Wales to develop this initiative, to whom the county council made a successful bid for a grant to pay for 77% of the cost of the facility. The remaining 23%, or £18,400, was funded by the county.

“No staff have been employed to manage the gym. Instructors are paid the going rate.

“Staff pay £2.50 per session, which is slightly less than at our leisure centres because classes are shorter.

“During 2008/09, the county council invested £750,000 to address essential work at our leisure centres. Work included a new roof at Flint Swimming Pool and a new roof at Saltney Sports Centre gym. We have also made funds available to carry out replacement works to the pitch at Buckley Leisure Centre/Elfed High.”

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