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Deal made in secret

I am sure no one is surprised that GLL, the company which made the successful bid to run leisure services in Swindon, is now suggesting it might invoke a break clause in the contract it has with SBC. In 2014, I recall the then chief executive of GLL telling the Adver “GLL currently operates more than 140 public leisure centres.., so our experience – coupled with our status as a not for profit charitable social enterprise – means we have both the operational skills and community focus to enable us to successfully operate a range of facilities that are sustainable long into the future.”

Clearly that statement persuaded people like Coun Keith Williams who said of the tie up with GLL “We think this is a great deal, which secures investments for these sites which could not happen if they remained in public ownership.” One of those sites was the Health Hydro.

Five years later the people of Swindon discover that GLL does not appear to have the operational skills they made claim to, as for any community focus, I think their track record of taking down the climbing wall and closing the small pool demonstrate their commitment to be of the most variable type.

Unless of course they are asking the public to believe five years is “long into the future”. As for Coun Williams claim that the GLL deal secured “investments for these sites which could not happen if they remained in public ownership.”

We now know that in order for GLL to have survived the council in secret bunged them £1.5million and a sweetener of £125,000 a year to keep them onside. The fact it was done in secret will be attributed to commercial necessity whereas the truth is that secrecy was necessary for political expediency.

Openness and transparency are words spouted by the administration when they wish to appear pious, whereas the reality is that we have not moved one iota from the days of the Wi-Fi scandal when SBC gave away £450,000 and then compounded the error by wasting over £1m on another absurd adventure.

SBC spokesman blithely states that the contract has saved the taxpayer £1.3m each year since 2014. That might well be true, but the deal signed between the two parties was clear – no contract for services and GLL received no revenue payments towards running the centre.

Des Morgan, Caraway Drive, Swindon

Collective challenge

JH Oliver (SA, March 3) opposes those protesting against the causes of global warming but can find no sensible argument to put. Climate protestors are responding after all to what the overwhelming scientific consensus is telling us.

Mr Oliver objects that protestors are wearing clothes produced by society as it is, possibly in sweat shops in the far East.

I have the strong suspicion that when people protest about corporations profiting from sweat shops in the far East Mr Oliver objects to those protests too but of course his point such as it is, is irrelevant.

Incidentally, there is some irony when those supporting a system which gives us sweat shops pretend indignation when people they disapprove of wear clothes produced in them.

Only when workers in those factories call for a boycott does it make any sense, anyway, to boycott, but that’s another issue.

What the protestors are beginning to realise is that collective pressure needs to be put to challenge the priorities of that tiny rich minority which runs our society such that its greedy thirst for profit is destroying our environment.

Peter Smith, Woodside Avenue, Swindon

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