A district councillor has branded the actions of North Norfolk District Council “hasty” and “shocking” following a proposal to hand over the responsibility of a sports centre.

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Liberal Democrat Nigel Lloyd accused NNDC at a full council meeting tonight (Wednesday) of being “hasty” and rushing into plans to withdraw funding from North Walsham Sports Centre in two years’ time.

NNDC wants to hand over responsibility for the sports centre, part of the North Walsham High School site off Spenser Avenue, to be managed together with The Atrium community arts building, which is also attached to the school.

Mr Lloyd has been a member of the sports centre’s voluntary management committee for 18 months and said that he believed “in this great summer of sport” that the proposal was “shocking”.

John Lee, cabinet portfolio holder for leisure services, said consultants had been appointed earlier this month to start work on a developing a financially sustainable business plan for the future running of the centre, which would be shared with all members in due course.

The anticipated cost of this is around £6,500.

He added: “At a meeting with the sports centre committee on September 6 it was stated that it was not North Norfolk District Council’s intention for the sports centre to close. Instead NNDC were seeking to find a more workable solution.

“We are committed to finding a sustainable financial model for the centre to remain open. This would build on the opportunity for a locally managed, community based sports facility at minimal net costs to the council.”

NNDC’s revenue budget for supporting leisure activities and sport in North Walsham is £360,000 - currently more than the town’s of Cromer (£312,000), Fakenham (£123,000), Stalham (£123,000) and Holt (£156,000).

Mr Lee added: “With regards to the wider strategy for the future provision of sport and active leisure, we believe that our ongoing work with local sports clubs, governing bodies and Active Norfolk, will continue to ensure that a good level of provision is maintained and enabled by the council.

“We feel that it is absolutely appropriate to balance the leisure needs of our residents against the available budget. As part of this, we have to look at alternative, locally based management models.

“If this enables all of our facilities to remain open, we would see it as a very positive outcome.”

Mr Lloyd said he believed the people of North Walsham and its surrounding areas would see the proposal as an annual cut of tens of thousands of pounds to the town.

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