THE chief executive of Edinburgh Leisure has revealed he is to resign – sparking concern over the future leadership of the organisation which runs many of the Capital’s public sports centres.
John Comiskey will quit his £80,000-a-year role in January, bringing an end to six years’ employment with the not-for-profit, arms-length body.
He said he would be looking to pursue new career opportunities. But the move has raised question marks over the leadership of Edinburgh Leisure after it emerged the organisation has failed to recruit a replacement for chairman Charles Winstanley, who has agreed to stay in post for a further six months while a new boss is found.
Concerns have been heightened by the ongoing budget squeeze bearing down on the organisation, whose finances are set to be squeezed in line with other council departments as city bosses try to plug a £120 million budget shortfall over the term of the current administration. Edinburgh Leisure chiefs last year predicted they would see losses of £250,000.
Councillor Norma Austin Hart, Labour member for Liberton-Gilmerton and deputy leader for culture and sport, said she was “disappointed” to hear of Mr Comiskey’s departure at a time when Edinburgh Leisure is preparing for a range of challenges.
She said: “Edinburgh Leisure is facing the same budgetary pressure that local government is under across the board.
“I’m disappointed that John is going because he has been an excellent chief executive and has steered it through some very major changes.
“It comes at a point in Edinburgh Leisure’s development when there are some very interesting and potentially difficult choices to be made over the next couple of years.
“It’s a big job – we’ll be looking for someone with a really strong background in the sector.”
In an announcement to colleagues, Mr Comiskey said he felt “extremely honoured” to have held his position, adding that it had always been “hugely rewarding”.
He said: “We are a fantastic organisation that is making a massive positive difference every day to thousands of people – and it has been great to play my small part in that.
“I feel the time has come however for me personally to move on and look for new opportunities.
“I will support the organisation in every way I can to both build our future plans and transition to new leadership arrangements.”