We got it wrong over long Cascades closure say councillors


The closure of Portadown leisure centre over Christmas came in for criticism at Monday night’s meeting of Craigavon Borough Council.

DUP Councillor Carla Lockhart was one of a number of councillors who questioned the decision to close Cascades and Waves for almost two weeks.

For the fourth year in a row, users were told to go to Brownlow leisure centre instead, prompting a flood of complaints.

Ms Lockhart said it was “totally unacceptable for a public service to be closed for two weeks” and vowed to fight “tooth and nail for a service that is suitable to the needs of a modern society”.

She said that while a report in 2009 had identified the need for cost savings in leisure, “this should have been revaluated fully given that lifestyles and social awareness of fitness have increased”.

She added, “Society is changing and times of work are flexible and we have to adapt to those changes.

“At a time when people are off on holiday I think it is essential that as a council we provide adequate leisure facilities and services.

“Opening hours across our three sites are significantly different and I believe this sends out a wrong message to the public.

“We are going to lose more people to private gyms which loses us income in the long run.”

Sinn Fein councillor Gemma McKenna said that over the holiday period, people start to go back to the gym and pool.

She said, “People came to me who are gym members and for two weeks they were not able to use the gym at Cascades. We are all about improving our service and we need to keep that in mind.”

Councillors Joe Nelson (SDLP) and DUP’s Alan Carson were also contacted by unhappy leisure users and said the issue needed to be addressed by the new council.

It was proposed that the issue be taken forward to the new ABC Council and that any complaints and queries as a result of the Christmas closure be analysed.