Kirklees Council has not ruled out ditching the failing charitable trust that has overseen the collapse of leisure services in the district.

Kirklees Active Leisure (KAL), the trust which runs the council’s leisure centres and sports facilities, has been engulfed in a financial crisis and Kirklees Council can no longer bail it out.

KAL and the council have launched public consultation proposing the closure of Colne Valley Leisure Centre in Slaithwaite, Dewsbury Sports Centre and Batley Sports & Tennis Centre in Howden Clough.

However, all centres are potentially at risk with only Huddersfield Leisure Centre and Spen Valley Leisure Centre in Cleckheaton safe.

At last week’s full council meeting Carl Mason, of the Save our Colne Valley Pool and Leisure Centre group, asked a number of questions on behalf of the local community.

He questioned KAL’s pricing model and the ‘fair price forever’ commitment which he described as “unsustainable” against a backdrop of rising costs. He also warned that decisions could be made using “flawed information” and questioned whether accurate membership figures were known.

Mr Mason said the community wanted Colne Valley to remain open and urged the council to look at alternative operators such as Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL).

Mr Mason added: “GLL is a charitable social enterprise and workers’ co-operative. They operate over 240 leisure centres, 120 libraries and 15 children’s centres in partnership with 50 local councils, public agencies and sporting organisations.

“They welcome over 50 million visitors a year generating over £390 million in social value and strive to help as many people as possible lead healthier, happier and longer lives.

“Why would a modern-day council decide not to look at any alternative options if KAL can no longer manage this service with the funding on offer?

“The community clearly does not want CVLC to close and would welcome another operator to take on the site.

“People are fully aware of the financial pressures the council is facing but the community of Colne Valley strongly urges Kirklees Council to seek out other partnership options other than that of KAL who, over the past few years, have required more and more financial support from the taxpayers of Kirklees while achieving nothing more than further closure of vital community facilities.”

In response, Clr Graham Turner, Cabinet member for finance, said no decisions would be made until the public consultation had been completed and the responses – more than 11,000 so far – had been analysed.

Clr Turner said he wasn’t opposed to replacing KAL in the long-term, however there simply wasn’t time now to make a change. The council had a legal duty to present a balanced budget for the next financial year in March.

He said it would take “many years” to negotiate a new deal and anyway the council still had an 18-month legally-binding contract with KAL.

He added: “Given the timescales (changing operator) is not on the agenda just yet. That could well come in the future.

“There are also several organisations that operate leisure services on behalf of councils so if the council did want to replace KAL the council would have to go through a formal procurement process to choose an alternative operator rather than just ask GLL to take over.

“I am not against the possibility of another operator, if that’s the right thing to do, but that is not a quick process and we have a legally-binding contract with KAL for the next 18 months.

“More importantly, none of this solves a more immediate issue that the service costs considerably more to operate than it generates in income and the council can no longer afford to cover this in the way it has done.

“Even under the proposals under consultation it will cost the council up to £2.5 million per year to support leisure services.

“The financial position of both KAL and the council makes it impossible to continue to operate all the existing centres.”