South Norfolk leisure centres could be handed over to a trust

Council bosses are considering handing over the running of leisure centres in South Norfolk to a trust as a way to save money and find funding to revamp them.

South Norfolk Council officers are investigating the merits of teaming up with West Norfolk Council to set up a local authority trust to run leisure centres at Wymondham, Long Stratton and Diss. Officers say that could save South Norfolk more than �250,000 a year, because being under control of a trust would make the leisure centres exempt from VAT and business rates.

In a report which will go before the council's overview sub-committee meeting today, the council's healthy living manager Rob Adams suggests the trust idea is explored, along with the option for the authority to keep managing the centres.

Management of Wymondham Leisure Centre was taken back in-house from a private contractor in 2007 and since then income there has increased, while employee costs have been reduced.

He said the three leisure centres in the district have 'enjoyed considerable business growth' over the past three years, with income up from �1.2m in 2008/9 to a predicted �1.59m for 2011/12.

But he warned making further savings while generating extra income will become 'more challenging' and long-term capital investment is needed to bring the centres at Long Stratton and Wymondham up to scratch, while the centre at Diss could need redevelopment at a new site.

He said the trust model could open up funding streams not currently available, while still giving the council a level of control over how the centres are run.

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dan.grimmer@archant.co.uk

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