Leisure trust to protect art and sport scene in West Norfolk
- Credit: Matthew Usher
West Norfolk's diverse arts and sports scenes will be protected by a new leisure trust.
Alive Leisure will take over the running of King's Lynn Corn Exchange, Lynnsport, St James Pool, Downham Leisure Centre, and the Oasis at Hunstanton from the borough council on Monday.
The move will save the council £500,000 a year and avoid the need for cuts at the leisure centres to save costs.
Peter Lemon, chairman of Alive Leisure said: 'What this means for customers is not too much initially.
'It will be a change to the way things are managed internally but people will not notice a difference when they visit their local leisure centre or the Corn Exchange.
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'Eventually, you might start to see changes after we have settled in and learnt what we can, but we are talking about six months to a year down the line before changes will be considered.'
West Norfolk council's cabinet member for leisure, David Pope said: 'Around a third of leisure facilities are run via a trust as this means that the amount of business rates and VAT are dramatically reduced.
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'The savings will go a long way to helping the council balance its books whilst ensuring that leisure facilities are preserved for the future.
'We took the decision to create a leisure trust last year and a lot of work has gone in to make this a reality.
'We have an excellent Board of Trustee's in place, who I know will continue to develop the excellent sports facilities that the Borough Council has been providing for many years.'
Without the introduction of the trust, the facilities involved in the deal would have potentially been forced to cut services due to financial constraints.
Freelance writer and former PE Teacher Sarah Juggins who is on the board of trustees said: 'The whole point is to offer as wide a range of activities to match as wide a range of interests as humanly possibly.
'I know for example at Lynnsport the football pitches and skate park are very popular, but it is important that Lynnsport can continue to offer facilities such as the climbing wall.
'We are really hoping to have a good interaction with the local population to see what the demand is and what they want to see.
A new Alive Leisure card will be implemented which will reduce prices on activities.
The normal price for a trip to the gym would be £7.25, but with the card it will cost £5.95.
To mark the transfer of facilities to Alive Leisure, an open day has been organised for Sunday, September 14 where people will be able to go to any of the leisure centres and take advantage of free have a go sessions.
Further information about Alive Leisure and the new trust are available at www.aliveleisure.co.uk.