Protest over '˜threat to services' at new leisure centre

Trade unions are planning a protest against the '˜possible privatisation of services' at the new leisure centre in Craigavon.

Monday, 26th November 2018, 1:12 pm
Updated Tuesday, 8th January 2019, 5:04 pm
Hundreds gathered to at a previous demonstration to protest at developments at Craigavon City Park outside Craigavon Civic Centre.

NIPSA members will be protesting this evening (Monday, November 26) against the ‘threat’ to services at the new leisure centre at Craigavon Lake Park.

Alongside sister trade union members in Unite and GMB they will be signalling to Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon councillors ‘their opposition to any council proposal suggesting that leisure services be privatised’.

NIPSA official Kim Graham will tell councillors that the privatisation threat is a major error and flies in the face of evidence available from other council in NI who have either considered and rejected or brought back in-house outsourced modern leisure services.

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The trade unions firmly believe that, if outsourcing is approved, it would prove more costly to the council and its citizens in more than just financial terms.

Furthermore, the council would no longer be in full control of the development of the new leisure offering for the duration of what tends to be lengthy contract periods with additional costs mounting as changes are required.

Ms Graham said: “This, NIPSA and our sister unions believe, would not be in the short, medium or long-term best interests of either this crucial public service the council provides or the health and well-being of its ratepayers who are eager to enjoy the new leisure offering due to open next year.

“It would also be a gamble which will likely not prove to be the best use of ratepayers’ money at a time when public sector funding is increasingly stretched.”

She added: “We are therefore holding an anti-privatisation protest before the full council meeting at Craigavon Civic Centre this evening.

“We will be joined with our fellow Save our City Lakes campaigners and will be urging councillors to fully consider the real costs that outsourcing would bring.”

A spokesperson for Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council said: “Elected representatives have not made any decision on the operating model for the new leisure centre. They will consider a range of options over the coming months.”