Swansea Labour insists that the city’s leisure facilities are set for a bright future.
As from the start of October the six key community facilities and the LC2 are to be operated by respected not-for-profit trust Freedom Leisure.
Labour councillor Robert Francis-Davies, the council’s cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said: “This is an exciting time for Swansea’s leisure centres and for the communities they serve.
“Our new partnership with Freedom Leisure – a well-established and experienced not-for-profit organisation – will mean a secure future for the facilities and new opportunities for the many thousands of people who use them.”
In all a £5m investment programme is planned with existing services, prices, opening hours, membership options and phone numbers will remaining for the foreseeable future.
Freedom Leisure is taking over the management of the LC2 from Bay Leisure.
The operation of the other sports and leisure centres – Bishopston, Cefn Hengoed, Elba, Morriston, Penlan and Penyrheol – is being transferred from Swansea Council.
Sites will remain accessible to communities, schools, groups and individuals.
Swansea’s leisure centres attract more than 2.1 million visitors a year. They offer high-quality attractions including swimming pools, fitness classes and programmes, gyms, sports clubs, children’s activities and squash courts.
The decision to create the partnership with Freedom Leisure was the culmination of a three-year commissioning review of council-operated leisure services.
“The facilities will remain council venues and council services – and the same friendly staff will continue to greet customers this Monday morning and beyond,” added Cllr Francis-Davies.
“Freedom Leisure will deliver the services for our customers, on our behalf; our partnership will ensure they give the people of Swansea what they want and need. Freedom Leisure intends to deliver the best outcomes for us all and will plough surplus funds back into the business.
“We will be working together to give the people of Swansea the best leisure offer we can now and in the future.”
Ivan Horsfall-Turner, managing director of Freedom Leisure, said: “We are delighted to have been selected as Swansea Council’s leisure partner. We hope that our operational expertise coupled with a localised approach means that the services will go from strength to strength in support of the objectives we share with the council – a healthy, active Swansea.”
Freedom Leisure was selected through a rigorous competitive tender process and has agreed a 20-year partnership with the council, and works for other local authorities, including Powys County Council and Wrexham County Borough Council.
Cllr Francis-Davies said: “Austerity has hit us hard and this is one of the big decisions we have made to help is meet the challenge.
“Freedom Leisure has the ability to deliver leisure services effectively and sustainably; it would have taken us a lot longer to create a new model that would do the same – and that would have created unnecessary risk for the services.
“We’ve never wanted to simply close down our leisure centres – or privatise them – when there are much better options available to safeguard staff jobs and enhance services for future generations.
“We will pay Freedom Leisure a fee for operating our services – and over the duration of the contract term this will be significantly less than it would costs us to run the venues.
“The people of Swansea can look forward to exciting times at their leisure and sports facilities with a programme of investment in services and facilities.”