Council look to cut costs at leisure centres

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Leisure centres run by Newark and Sherwood District Council could be managed by a new company which will save council taxpayers £250,000 in its first year.

The Dukeries in Ollerton and the Blidworth Community Leisure Centre will be run by a new company that will have a specific focus on leisure, sport, health and well-being.

In doing so, the council can make savings through reducing its VAT and business rates liability and cut the annual subsidy to the leisure centres of £506,000 to zero by 2020.

Under the new arrangements, the company will remain wholly owned by the council and will be accountable to its leisure and environment committee.

The council’s current Leisure Business Unit will become a not-for-profit company under the new arrangements and will be governed by a board consisting of three councillors, two council officers and the managing director.

Each year the company will produce a business plan which will be subject to the approval of the leisure and environment committee. In this way, any changes proposed by the company, will have to be approved by councillors on the committee.

Coun Tony Roberts, chairman of the council’s leisure and environment committee, said: “With 12,000 users, one in 10 of our residents use the council’s leisure centres. Independent experts have recognised that they are run very efficiently and represent excellent value for money.

“These changes will ensure the long-term viability of our leisure centres and, with the council needing to save nearly £1 million in the financial year 2015-16, the savings made will make a significant contribution to that total.”