‘Show your balls over leisure contract’ - Islington’s Labour councillors urged

The Sobell Centre

The Sobell Centre - Credit: Archant

Town hall members are being urged to show “some balls” over a controversial leisure contract tonight.

Last week Islington Council awarded the multi-million pound contract to run the borough’s leisure centres for the next 15 years to Greenwich company GLL.

The decision, which was leaked prior to the official announcement, has attracted criticism from union UNISON, as well as Holloway-based charity Aquaterra, which has held the contract since 1997 – it says the process lacked transparency.

Now the decision has been ‘called in’ by the opposition Lib Dem group which want the council to re-think the decision and answer the following questions:

- What will happen to the 50 people currently working in Aquaterra’s Holloway head office?

- What will happen to the 105 freelance gym instructors employed in Islington’s leisure centres?

- Do GLL pay the London Living Wage across the whole of the company?

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A scrutiny committee will discuss the case tonight, and if they uphold the call-in, the council’s ruling executive may have to think again.

Cllr John Gilbert, a Lib Dem member of the committee, said: “It all depends on whether the Labour members have the balls to stand up to the executive.

“There is a lot of interest in the meeting, particularly from the gym instructors who are freelance

“Quite a few of them will them will turn up to have their say and ask the council to rethink the whole thing.

“People hadn’t considered what would happen to them – and I think they have very strong grounds.

“I am hopeful they will think again.”

Antony Kildare, chief executive at Aquaterra, said: “We are awaiting the release of Islington Council’s full report on the preferred leisure provider.

“We hope the meeting tonight will shed further light on the scores and detail.”

A spokesman for the council said Aquaterra employees who are members of the team delivering to the current leisure contract will have the right to transfer to the new provider.

He added that GLL will pay the living wage in Islington.