In an unexpected move, the District Council's coalition Leader has announced its third change in leadership for the executive member responsible for leisure within a matter of months. This rapid succession has raised concerns among Conservative councillors, who believe it reflects a lack of focus on improving leisure and sport facilities in West Oxfordshire.
The district council's commitment to enhancing the well-being and leisure opportunities for residents has recently come under scrutiny due to this frequent change in leadership. Conservative councillors argue that the constant reshuffling of executive positions for leisure sends a signal that the council's priorities may not be adequately aligned with the needs of the community when it comes to leisure and sport amenities.
Councillor Liam Walker, who is Deputy Leader of the District Conservative group, expressed his concerns, stating, "It's worrying to see the third change of the Executive member for leisure in such a short period. I think this raises questions about the stability and commitment of the council to improve leisure and sport facilities in West Oxfordshire. We believe that consistent and focused leadership is essential to drive positive changes and address the concerns of our residents effectively."
West Oxfordshire residents have consistently voiced their desire for improved access to leisure facilities and recreational opportunities. Earlier this year users of the Woodstock outdoor pool were left frustrated with the council’s decision to open the pool in July rather than from April to September with the council stating that energy prices impacted the opening times.
Cllr Thomas Ashby, who is a District Councillor, said, "I hope that the new Executive Member gets stuck in from the very beginning as we do have real challenges here in West Oxfordshire. From a lack of football pitches, to crumbling leisure centres, this space of work needs someone to hit the ground running, take control and provide consistency to this portfolio.”
The government announced a £63 million fund earlier this year to help support local authorities with the rising costs of energy bills with the fund being managed by Sport England.