The Trustees of the Wincanton Community Sports Centre (WCSC) have decided that due to its ongoing success WCSC needs professional management, and have agreed with South Somerset District Council that the running of WCSC should be passed to a professional leisure organisation.
The volunteer trustees feel that the best way to realise the potential of this great community – based leisure centre is to stand aside. This would allow an established leisure provider to help achieve the ambitious plans that WCSC’s senior management are keen to put into place.
The introduction of the new Matrix fitness suite has led to an upturn in membership and use of the centre, and the trustees now feel that the best way for the facility to be run for the community is through specialists.
The Board of Trustees and South Somerset District Council will now work together to facilitate a smooth transition to a larger non-profit making trust, who will have greater capacity and resilience to develop the range of services for customers and the reach of the centre, and enabling services to be delivered at a lower cost to the tax payer.
Subject to negotiations to ensure services are delivered at the most economically advantageous price, the operation of the facility is expected to transfer to non-profit making trust LED (Leisure East Devon), who are the Council’s main leisure facility operating partner. LED currently manages a range of different leisure facilities across fifteen different sites in South Somerset and East Devon.
The transfer will not affect any of the centre’s services or opening hours, and the Board will continue to operate all of the current services through to the handover to the new operator. Both parties will be working to introduce the new arrangements by the end of this year.
Chris Fenton, current Chairman of the Trustees remarks: “We are immensely proud of our local Sports Centre. It is important for the Wincanton Community, and needs to be managed at the best level to provide top-quality fitness and leisure facilities. Goldenstones Leisure Centre in Yeovil recognised this recently and has really benefitted from external expertise from a recognised leisure provider to help further develop their business.”
Sylvia Seal, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture at South Somerset District Council added, “The decision makes good business sense and it has been made for all the right reasons – for staff, customers and the communities the centre serves. The Council will now commence discussions with LED and we will be working to reach agreement and move forward with developments as soon as possible.”
Peter Gilpin, Chief Executive of LED said, “We are delighted to be able to further assist the Council as its main charitable leisure partner. We are very much looking forward to working closely with the Council, the Board, staff and customers to see how we can develop what is already an excellent facility even further. We shall be starting to working up our detailed business plans with a view to concluding arrangements with the Council in the next few months.”
The aim is to continue to build a sustainable, customer-friendly, health and leisure focused facility for the Wincanton area to ensure the Centre remains a popular and inclusive place for people of all ages to enjoy healthy sport and recreation. Keeping up with trends and developments in the leisure industry is crucial, ensuring we provide both the latest equipment and also the most social, comfortable environment for visitors at all times.
The current board of Trustees are all currently local volunteers who are passionate about the continued development of the local sports centre. Whether it be solar panels on the roof for energy saving or pressure to improve signage to the centre, the group have worked as hard as they can to move the centre forward. However, none have direct leisure management experience and the feeling is the centre would benefit from being driven by an established leisure management organisation to ensure ‘potential is given its best chance’.