Future is bright for school sport centres

SPORTS centres in Portishead and Clevedon could soon boast revamped facilities thanks to a pending deal with North Somerset Council.

The artificial pitches at Gordano Sports Centre and Swiss Valley Sports Centre will be replaced and the changing rooms and reception areas redeveloped if the unitary authority’s executive committee signs off a document due to be considered today (Tues).

The centres share sites with Gordano School and Clevedon School and are classed as dual-use as they are open to the public out school hours.

Earlier this year they were included in a list of leisure facilities North Somerset Council analysed to see how they could be better managed while saving the unitary authority money.

As a result, each school is in the process of setting up a not-for-profit organisation (NPOs) to take over the running of the facilities from April 2011.

When the council announced its leisure services review, many residents feared the sport centres could close.

However, their future now looks secure and the NPOs will be able to attract funding from elsewhere to further improve facilities.

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Gordano School headteacher Gary Lewis said: “We have been absolutely dedicated to making sure the school facilities continue to be available to local people for out of hours use.

“An NPO exists to operate on a commercial basis, to seek partners in the public sector, work with sporting governing bodies and we hope that through that we will be able to get investment in the Gordano site, which will allow us to maintain the facilities and improve them, bringing in facilities for sports that we can’t operate now.”

At each school, North Somerset Council plans to spend up to �160,000 replacing the artificial grass pitch and �75,000 to jointly fund building improvements to changing rooms and reception areas.

It will also give each NPO a grant of �35,000 over three years to help ensure a sustainable future for both organisations.

In Portishead the NPO will be called the Gordano School Community Trust and in Clevedon it will be called the Clevedon School Sports Centre Trust.

The NPOs’ directors and members will be initially made up of the headteachers, business managers and governor representatives.