Communities across Mendip are set to benefit from millions of pounds of investment in local leisure centres following the council’s decision to grant leases for its leisure facilities to a not-for-profit organisation.
At a joint meeting of the council’s Cabinet and Scrutiny Board tonight (Monday 24th November) Cabinet took the decision to appoint Fusion Lifestyle as its preferred bidder to take leases of and operate Frome Leisure Centre, Wells Leisure Centre, Strode Swimming Pool and Fitness Centre, Tor Sports and Leisure Centre and Shepton Mallet Lido.
It is expected that a legal agreement will be signed before Christmas which will allow Fusion Lifestyle to take on 50-year leases of the facilities from June 2015, when the council’s existing leisure contract with Avalon Leisure comes to an end.
Fusion has pledged to invest in and improve the facilities over the term of its lease, ensuring up-to-date and popular leisure activities can be provided across the district for many years to come.
As well as investing in the buildings, Fusion is required to take over all the associated running costs and risks, reducing costs to the council which could then be reinvested in other frontline services.
Fusion’s investment programme, which is due to be completed by 1st April 2018, is:
- Frome Leisure Centre – £2million
- Wells Leisure Centre – £550,0000
- Strode Swimming Pool and Fitness Centre – £100,000
- Tor Sports and Leisure Centre – £75,000
- Shepton Mallet Lido – £75,000
Cllr John Parham, Portfolio Holder for Governance, Assets and Public Spaces, said: “The decision to appoint Fusion Lifestyle as tenant of the council’s leisure facilities is great news for the people of Mendip. Fusion will invest in all of the council’s leisure facilities, reinvigorating them and updating them for users.
“As a registered charity, Fusion uses its profits to enhance and develop its services and facilities, so leisure users are kept at the heart of everything they do.
“To appoint a partner to operate the district’s leisure facilities was a bold move by the council and one that has secured the future of leisure across the district for many years to come. If we had not taken this approach, there would have been a question mark over how long the council could have continued to fund leisure services in Mendip.
“I look forward to working with our partners at Fusion and I’m keen to see the improvements they will bring to our leisure facilities across the district.”
Peter Kay, Fusion’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “As an independent registered charity devoted to encouraging participation in sport and physical activity, we are delighted to be entering into this long-term relationship with the council and are pleased to be playing a part in securing a sustainable future for leisure provision in the district.
“We are committed to providing high quality sport and leisure facilities which are inclusive and accessible to all members of the local community and we look forward to meeting with existing staff and customers in due course.”
The council will now publish a formal notice of its intention to enter into the legal agreement with Fusion, which will give other companies 10 days to object if they think the tendering process has been unfair. In the meantime, the council will also complete a range of standard background checks. Subject to these formalities being cleared, the agreement will be signed before Christmas.
Staff from the council’s current leisure providers, Avalon, will move across to Fusion in line with TUPE regulations.
Fusion will shortly begin to consult with users of the leisure facilities about what activities and services they would like to see provided in the long term.