Council name leisure lease companies in bid to save £1.5m a year
THE council have announced the companies who will be leasing Swindon’s leisure and golf facilities, following several months of negotiation.
A process was started last year to move these facilities out of council control in a bid to save £1.5 million a year is subsidies.
Greenwich Leisure Limited, which operates the Oasis on a day-to-day basis, will take over the running of all the leisure aspects of the deal on 25 year leases.
They will operate Croft Sports Centre, Delta Tennis Centre, Haydon Centre, and the Link Centre with a guarantee to keep them open for at least ten years. The Dorcan Recreation Complex and Health Hydro will have stay open guarantees for five years.
If after this time GLL decide any of those sites are not financially viable they can relinquish them but the council will have first refusal.
GLL are a not-for-profit social enterprise and run 140 venues around the country, including the London Aquatics Centre and the Copper Box Arena.
Broome Manor and Highworth with golf facilities will be run by Twigmarket, who also run Trent park golf course in London.
Due to the level of investment planned these will both be on 75 years leases with 25 and 15 years keep open options respectively.
Moredon golf facility has been removed from the proposal as it is not seen as financially viable to run and will now become public space. Although the pitch and putt will remain the greens will not be maintained by the council and cabinet will be asked to look for alternative options.
There will not be any subsidies of any of the facilities. The proposal will go before cabinet who will be asked to recommend GLL and Twigmarket next week prior to the next full council meeting. If it gains approval, the leases are likely to come into effect later this year.
There had been initial fears the leases could lead to the closure of some of the less profitable venues, with the land being sold on for housing. Last week a petition with 1,600 signatures demanding the Croft playing fields were removed from the lease was handed in to the mayor following worries it could be sold on for housing.
However, council leaders have dismissed this and described it as a positive step for Swindon.
Coun Keith Williams (Con, Shaw), the cabinet member for leisure, said: “We think this is a great deal, which not only saves the council £1.5 million but also secures investment for these sites which could not happen if they remained in public ownership.
“Both GLL and Twigmarket have an excellent track record and met all our key outcomes in the bid evaluation process so I will be urging my cabinet colleagues to support the recommendations outlined in the cabinet report to maintain the fantastic leisure offer that we have in Swindon.
“The two companies specialise in their fields and have no interest in house building. That is not what they do.”
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