SIR: Residents of Hyde have every right to feel gloomy about the North Walls recreation grounds proposals (Chronicle, Letters, June 3).

We are offered a rather uninteresting set of expensive ornaments and designer objects; no doubt with prices well in excess of what most would accept. A division of the grounds into “rooms” is proposed; a trite apartheid useful only to those wishing to lock out change that might add value to those areas.

The first item on any agenda for change should be an evaluation of the fixed overheads involved in their upkeep. That is not provided. That measure would be a baseline from which to work out what balance of cost and, yes, revenue would allow long-term sustainability. Instead the report appears only to offer change “if the funding can be obtained”. Well, in times of permanent financial constraints it won’t and, through time, the grounds will sit in a musty stasis with the occasional unenthusiastic servicing and some urgent maintenance applied.

In that respect, the separation of the grounds from the recreation centre itself is a mistake. A much better solution would be for the city council to release its control of both, for a minimum ten-year period, to an incorporated Social Enterprise with rights to develop the asset for the community. There is of course a political problem here in that the council has sunk a lot of money (£38 million) into the new Bar End sports centre; competition from North Walls will not be welcome.

Yet competition between two centres is precisely what is needed to induce innovation and pricing constraint for local residents. The old sports centre, along with the car park, has a large revenue-earning space available that could be used for multiple purposes. The pools had become uneconomic in energy use and maintenance; they need to be re-purposed. The dry areas will earn their keep from local demand on the north side of the city, rather than making users go to Bar End, usually by car and so increasing CO2 emissions.

It’s time to get the council out of the way, and let Hyde control its own amenities.

Eben Wilson,

King Alfred Place,