SIR: Local Liberal Democrats are doing their best to convince voters that the new leisure centre is an achievement. Behind this inflated and grandiose opinion, the real truth about its existence is quite alarming and a lesson in misrepresentation.

In 2018 the Tories agreed a confidential contract and admission prices without consultation, discussion, oversight or scrutiny of the decisions. The maximum uplift in prices promised by centre owners Everyone Active was to be 15 per cent. It’s now at least 40 per cent. A Passport to Leisure card was to be introduced, but has not been heard of since. Over 400 swimming lessons undertaken by a highly reputable and professional local club, Penguins have been cut and they have been excluded from using the pool. A Joint Advisory Board was set up. It has never met or operated to consider proposals. An Open Forum for questions and answers was convened. The outcome was a stage managed body where questions were asked, but very few answers given or actions taken. WCC have been told by EA what they can have, not what is best for the community. No proper democratic consultation and no one bothering about engaging and listening to the reasons why local people should be involved.

This project has been cloaked in a total lack of transparency with insufficient and inadequate community engagement, carried out in complete secrecy to deny the community a role in decision making. After EA won the bid, they stipulated a 15 year contract or no deal. The whole enterprise is now completely beyond any local control whatsoever. It is purely a commercial contract based on profit entirely going to EA. WCC and the community are excluded.

Behind the glossy front and false promises, this travesty represents an extremely poor example of how little the Lib Dems really care about the electorate.

Peter Rees,

Member – Winchester Constituency Labour Party,

Candidate Hampshire County Council Elections,

Monarch Way,