Council backs plan for new company to manage West Norfolk leisure venues
Council chiefs have backed plans to set up a new non-profit company to run many of West Norfolk’s most prominent leisure and entertainment facilities.
The plan to replace current operator Alive Leisure sparked a furious reaction from its trustees when it was announced in August.
But the authority, whose cabinet approved the move at a special meeting on Wednesday, says changes in tax rules mean its proposed model is now more efficient.
Leader Brian Long said yesterday: “On balance, members have decided that developing a new borough council owned leisure company, with existing staff transferring into it, will improve the possibilities for future investment, grow participation and mean the council has greater control over financial decisions.
“We will continue to work positively with the Alive Leisure Trust while the new company is established and operations transferred.
“There should be little disruption to service users and staff during this period in the same way that there was no disruption when the current arrangements were established.”
“I would personally like to thank board members andstaff of both organisations for their hard work and dedication and for what they have achieved over the last few years.”
Alive Leisure, which was set up four years ago to manage Lynn’s Corn Exchange, Lynnsport and St James’ Pool, plus the Downham Leisure Centre and the Oasis centre in Hunstanton, had argued the switch could cost taxpayers up to £2 million.
But the council said it would help to reduce the £1.2 million a year it currently spends on leisure provision.
Alive Leisure chief executive, Simon McKenna said: “We are naturally disappointed by this news as we have worked tirelessly to provide local people with an exceptional leisure service and had exciting plans for the future.
“We will continue to work with the council and our priority is a smooth transition for both staff and customers.”