West Lothian Leisure threatens closure of pools in Livingston, Armadale and Broxburn due to cuts

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Three pools and arts venue in West Lothian could close if proposal approved

Communities have been left shocked and “devastated” after a proposal to close four leisure centres in West Lothian.

Four venues, including Xcite Armadale, Xcite Broxburn Swimming Pool, Xcite Livingston and Howden Park Centre, all face closure. West Lothian Leisure has put forward the plans to the Council, in an attempt to address the £1.75m budget shortfall it faces. Ben Lamb, chief executive of West Lothian Leisure said that “closing venues is not what we want to do”. However, he said: “In the face of multiple economic pressures, closures are the only way to secure the future of the services we provide to the people of West Lothian”.

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West Lothian Leisure has more than 300 staff, with more than 70 individuals working at the venues earmarked for closure. Mr Lamb said: “We understand that this news comes as a massive blow to the team. We are committed to finding as many redeployment opportunities as possible across our other facilities.”

Several swimming pools, including Xcite Livingston, are facing closure under a proposal put forward by West Lothian Leisure.Several swimming pools, including Xcite Livingston, are facing closure under a proposal put forward by West Lothian Leisure.
Several swimming pools, including Xcite Livingston, are facing closure under a proposal put forward by West Lothian Leisure.

The organisation has promised residents will still be able to access leisure facilities within a 15-minute drive if plans go ahead. However, Mr Lamb admitted that this is not the case for Howden Park Centre, which hosts theatre, live music and dance performances. He said: “The case is very different for Howden Park Centre, which is a fantastic community facility, but unfortunately it is underused and has been operating at a deficit for many years, despite all efforts to reduces cost. The level of investment required to transform the facility into a thriving community theatre and arts centre is unfortunately no longer in our gift.”

Hannah Bardell, SNP MP for Livingston, described the potential closures as “devastating”. In a statement, she promised to “fight tooth and nail to save these sites”. She said: “These sites and their staff are vital for the well-being of our community. It’s time for our communities to stand up and speak out against these cuts.”

Fiona Hyslop, SNP MSP for Linlithgow, also shared worries about the plans. She said: “I share the concerns of many of my Constituents about the potential closure of important leisure facilities across West Lothian, which includes two within my own Constituency - Xcite Armadale and Broxburn Swimming Pool. Although West Lothian has better swimming pool provision than elsewhere in Scotland the lack of buses mean that it is unreasonable to expect people to travel distances to swim – for example it is counter productive to active health and well-being for older people in Broxburn who don’t have cars to be expected to travel to Winchburgh for a swim.”

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The news has caused an outburst of anger from locals, with many taking to social media to share their thoughts. One wrote: “Broxburn is always busy and is about the only thing for kids to do round the area. Livingston is even busier and is a family day out for most locals! This is beyond ridiculous.” Another resident said: “Absolutely shocking that it has come to this. Council tax continues to go up of course yet services are constantly cut. If these sites shut it will be a huge loss to the community and really really poor from West Lothian Council for not stepping in and helping!”