Winchester City Council sets out proposals to introduce new operator for district’s leisure centres
The city council is proposing that Everyone Active, the operator of the new Winchester Sport & Leisure Park, takes on the operation of the existing River Park site early helping to smooth the transition from the existing centre. Everyone Active would also take on the interim operation of Meadowside Leisure Centre in Whiteley. Everyone Active is the longest-established leisure operator in the UK and currently manages over 170 leisure sites across the country in partnership with more than 50 different local authorities.
The enforced closure of the district’s leisure centres due to COVID-19 has prompted a full assessment of the options open to the council over the running of both leisure centres. In line with all local authorities, the closure of the centres has led to a loss in income for the council and ongoing maintenance costs, whilst reopening the centres will also involve additional expenditure. Under this proposal, the council has sought the best deal for residents and council tax payers - all staff of the existing sites will be retained and transferred to the new operator. Memberships will also be transferred from the current operator Places Leisure.
Following the government’s announcement on the reopening of indoor sports facilities on July 9, under these proposals, the council would work with Everyone Active to finalise plans to welcome back customers, with the aim to reopen on September 1.
Cllr Malcolm Prince, Cabinet Member for Sport, Leisure and Communities, said:
“It’s more important than ever that all residents have access to sport and leisure facilities and we are determined to provide this. In line with local authorities across the country, the enforced closure of leisure centres has had a significant impact but we have carefully considered all the options as we are now able to look to reopen.
“In Winchester our proposal is to bring the chosen operator for our new leisure centre on board earlier, helping to deliver a seamless transition to the Bar End site. The expert teams at both centres would remain bringing continuity at Meadowside in Whiteley. Under this preferred approach, we will work with Everyone Active to put in place the detailed plans needed to welcome people back to our leisure centres with confidence. I know many people are keen to get back to these sites, and we will continue to update residents as more details become available in the coming weeks. In the meanwhile, our open spaces, play areas, outdoor gyms and outdoor tennis courts are open for residents to enjoy.”
The council announced plans to tender for an operator for Meadowside Leisure Centre earlier this year - this process remains the longer term plan.
The proposal will be discussed at the council’s Cabinet on July 22. A full copy of the report will be available online at www.winchester.gov.uk