Operator found for leisure centres - The Leamington Observer

Operator found for leisure centres

Ian Hughes 24th Mar, 2017   0

A FIRM has been appointed to manage and operate district council-run leisure centres over the next ten years.

Sports and Leisure Management Ltd (SLM), which trade as Everyone Active, will take over the management of the newly refurbished Newbold Comyn and St Nicholas Park leisure centres in Leamington and Warwick, as well as Abbey Fields Swimming Pool, Castle Farm Recreation Centre, and Meadow Community Sports Centre, all in Kenilworth, and John Atkinson Sports Centre at Warwick’s Myton School.

SLM will take over at the start of June and the 90 existing staff employed by the council will transfer to the new operator.

The current £14.5million overhaul of the Newbold Comyn and St Nicholas Park centres has not been without controversy, including the bringing in of a private contractor to run them.

Labour group spokeswoman Coun Coun Kristie Naimo who previously expressed concern about the potential for the new operator to increase costs said Labour would continue to scrutinise the operation of the new contractor now SLM had been appointed.

She added: “Membership prices at the Stratford Leisure Centre which they manage are between 24 per cent and 40 per cent higher than in Warwick district.

“And on top of that they charge a £35 joining fee. We shall be urging them to waive this fee for our residents. And we shall be watching closely to see what happens to prices locally for ordinary loyal users.”

But the ruling Conservative administration was confident hiring a private contractor was the best way forward.

District cultural spokesman Coun Michael Coker said: “As Warwick District Council is making a huge investment in our leisure centres we needed to find a management partner who we were confident could not only provide the best possible service and value for money for our residents, but would also bring exciting new programmes and initiatives to encourage participation in sport from all sectors of our community.

“Throughout the selection process, SLM have demonstrated that they are the best organisation to fulfil our ambitious plans.”

The leisure centres will remain in council ownership and under the agreement the council will also continue to control a selection of prices for concession users and will honour all pre-existing bookings for a year.

SLM managing director Dave Bibby said: “We have operated sites in Stratford and the surrounding areas for the past 25 years, and have a wealth of experience in delivering state-of-the-art facilities and exciting activities to the local community.

“As the UK’s longest established leisure provider, our aim is to encourage more communities to improve their health and wellbeing by taking part in physical activity.

“This is an exciting time for sports and leisure in the Warwick district, and we are confident our new partnership with the council will help us deliver this aim and offer fantastic opportunities for local people to get active.”

SLM currently operates 44 contracts with other local authorities covering 150 centres, including in neighbouring Stratford and Southam.

The refurbishment at Newbold Comyn and St Nicholas Park will see the creation of new health and fitness studios; new changing facilities; and upgraded reception areas in both centres; and a new four-court sports hall at Newbold Comyn. The work on both centres is expected to be completed in November.


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