Firm taking over South Lakes leisure centres plans big investment in sports facilities (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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Firm taking over South Lakes leisure centres plans big investment in sports facilities
A FIRM that will take over the running of three sport and recreation centres in South Lakeland has promised to invest £750,000 in improving facilities.
North Country Leisure was this week handed a ten-year contract to run Kendal’s leisure centre, Ulverston swimming pool and outdoor complex and Windermere outdoor centre.
It will become South Lakeland District Council’s partner and takes over from South Lakes Leisure Trust, which has run the centres for the past ten years.
The Hexham-based trust already delivers services in Eden, Copeland and Northumberland, running 12 leisure sites. The deal will come into place from April 2014 NCL’s chief executive John Maude said he was ‘delighted’ that the company had come out top in the tendering process, which featured three other bidders.
“We are very much about keeping people healthy and fit, getting more people swimming, getting older people more active and helping people who are returning to exercise,” he said.
As well as improvements to fitness suites, studios and changing rooms, a focus of the investment will be ‘outreach programmes’.
At a press call held at Sandylands games area, Kendal, he said: “We will work to bring activities out to places like this, and help local sports clubs, schools and village halls to think about what they are providing for local people.”
He said that existing staff would be transferred to the new partnership, and that all facilities would remain open during the interim period, but added that a membership price increase was inevitable after the refurbish-ments.
“I think people are happy to pay a little more as long as the quality is there,” he said.
Graham Vincent, SLDC’s portfolio holder for health and wellbeing, said: “This is an exciting opportunity to create modern and better leisure facilities, and programmes, for the residents of South Lakeland.
“SLDC is committed to improving the health and wellbeing of all our residents and this new partnership will be central to our aspiration to make South Lakeland the best place to live, work, and explore.”
David Sykes, SLDC’s Director of People and Places, said he hoped that NCL would take the service forward and embrace new ideas.
Rodger Read, chair of South Lakes Leisure, was not happy that the local trust had not been awarded the new contract. Mr Read claimed that its bid was £40,000 a year cheaper.
“We put forward the best financial package,” he said.
“We offered a strong local business partnership, a ten-year- development plan, and over three quarters of a million pound investment proposal.
“I do not want to sound like a sore loser, but we have run the place for ten years and it seems that we were not given credit for all that we have done in that time.”
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