A councillor has moved to allay mounting fears for the future of a Leeds sports centre.
As previously reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post, Garforth Squash and Leisure Centre is due to switch to reduced opening hours on April 1 in a cost-cutting push by the city council.
There has been speculation in the town that the site could eventually go the same way as Halton Moor's East Leeds Leisure Centre, which will shut completely on March 31.
Today, though, Coun Mark Dobson (Lab, Garforth & Swillington) pledged that the Garforth centre would NOT have to close.
Coun Dobson said talks were progressing well with a third party that had expressed an interest in leasing the site from the council and providing its services.
He also said that, in the best case scenario, a handover to the third party could take place before April 1 – potentially removing the need for any reduction in opening hours.
The YEP understands that the third party in talks with the council is Garforth Academy, formerly known as Garforth Community College.
Coun Dobson told the YEP: "I am fully committed to Garforth Squash and Leisure Centre remaining open, delivering a broad range of community activities and retaining local jobs.
"If the changes in hours do end up taking effect, I hope they will be for a strictly limited period.
"We apologise for any inconvenience and will be happy to pick up any concerns from residents."
Facilities at the Ninelands Lane-based centre include a sports hall, six squash courts and a 43 station gym.
The site currently opens for 98 hours a week. Under the system due to
come into force on April 1, that figure would fall to 31.
* Labour-run Leeds City Council's leisure centre plans are part of a
wider bid to make savings of 90m during the 2011-12 financial year.
Other proposals include reducing the number of staff employed at the authority by 1,500 by the end of March 2012. The council says the measures are a consequence of "unprecedented" cuts in the funding it receives from the government.