Watersports under threat at Pugneys Park as Wakefield Council looks to save cash

Pugneys Park
Pugneys Park

Watersports in Wakefield could be under threat as the council considers a move to hand over control of boating in Pugneys Park to a ‘third party’.

Senior councillors will consider a report that recommends loss-making boating and sailing at the park be handed over to another organisation to help balance the books.

The report acknowledges that suspending the service could mean there would be no watersport in the district if another organisation does not step in. Coun Jacquie Speight, cabinet member for sport, culture and leisure said: “The current watersport operation has to be heavily subsidised from our budget, which is simply no longer sustainable.

“In the recent budget consultation residents said that they want to see the council work more commercially to help us protect services and meet the huge financial challenges we are faced with. So we need to be prepared to do things differently.

“This proposal opens up an opportunity for other organisations to essentially ‘rent’ the water and provide their own watersport operation, and has the potential to result in a much improved offer, attracting more visitors.”

She said the changes would not affect organised clubs and groups who meet the hire conditions and the council would continue to support organised charity events and groups.

The report states: “Whilst no formal consultation has taken place with regard to the option to close, the council does not have sufficient staff to operate a full summer offer safely.

“There is no guaranteed watersport offer in the district as it would depend on volunteers or a third party.

“Current water users would have to relocate to other sites across the north of England if they could not reach agreement with the new operator.”

The lake at Pugneys is currently closed due to high levels of bacteria found during routine water testing and people have been to told to keep out of the water.