Secure future for sport centres?

PUBLISHED: 13:37 03 August 2010 | UPDATED: 13:38 03 August 2010

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THE future of two popular North Somerset sport centres could be secured by the creation of non-profit organisations.

THE future of two popular North Somerset sport centres could be secured by the creation of non-profit organisations.

The outlook for the facilities at Gordano School in Portishead and Swiss Valley Sport centre at Clevedon School seemed unsure when it was announced earlier this year that they were to be part of a North Somerset Council cost-cutting leisure services review.

However, after months of consultation and discussions, it is likely they will be run by a charity or non-profit organisation from April next year.

Along with the dual-use sport centres at Wyvern and Churchill secondary schools, as well as facilities such as the Winter Gardens and Playhouse theatre in Weston, the operation of the centres has been analysed to figure out how money can be saved.

Options looked at included allowing a private company to take on their management, handing over responsibility to the schools or even closing them.

However, at a meeting of Clevedon Town Council’s town events and amenities committee on July 21, North Somerset Council’s leisure manager, Russ Currie, told members of the best option for the Gordano and Swiss Valley centres.

He said: “We are working directly with the schools to see how the facilities could be provided by not-for-profit organisations.

“We have been working for ten months to find out what the schools would like out of a community facility and what other people would like out of it.

“The aim as far as we are concerned is to retain the activities that go on at the sites while making the necessary cost saving for the council.”

Mr Currie believes a not-for-profit organisation would be able to access funding not available to councils and private companies to help meet the running costs of the centres.

He also said such an organisation, which could be formed in December ready for operation from April 1 next year, would insulate the school and council from financial risk.

The news was welcomed by members of Clevedon Town Council.

Councillor Jack Dagnall said: “This is a facility we want to preserve.

“We want to retain it for the residents of Clevedon as well as the school.”

If the move does go ahead, it is likely that many of the current staff members could keep their jobs.

Mr Currie said the arrangement could include a subsidy from North Somerset Council, which would reduce annually, but also a cash injection to bring the facilities up to standard.

This could include upgrading the artificial pitches in Clevedon, which generate between £30-40,000 in income every year, at a cost of up to £150,000.

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