October 23rd, 2016

Leisure centres in Warwick district to be run by private company

LEISURE centres in Warwick district are set to be run by private contractors.

Controversial proposals to bring in outside management to operate centres at Newbold Comyn in Leamington and St Nicholas Park in Warwick as part of a £12million revamp caused outcry.

Campaigners fearing possible ‘privatisation’ started a petition which was signed by more than 2,300 people. Labour campaigner Ben Wesson handed it in and urged council chiefs not to involve an outside company, concerned the quality of management would be compromised and people would be discouraged from using the facilities for fear of price hikes.

But the council has nevertheless agreed to seek a contractor to run the two centres, as well as Kenilworth’s Abbey Fields, on a day to day basis.

All centres will remain in council ownership, and council chiefs will also have a controlling say in their running – promising  no job losses and control over setting concessionary pricing.

The move is set to save Warwick District Council in the region of £500,000.

District spokeswoman Coun Sue Gallagher said: “I would like to again reassure residents and users of the facilities that the leisure services are not being privatised, with Warwick District Council still owning and maintaining control of the buildings.

“Under the terms of any new contract, in addition to controlling concessionary prices, schools and club hires will be protected as at present, and staff currently employed in the leisure centres will have the opportunity to be transferred to a new operator, with their conditions and levels of pay protected.”

A public planning consultation to discuss the £12million investment will be taking place at Newbold Comyn from January 29 to 31 January and at St Nicholas Park from February 5 to 7.