Private company taking over Ilkeston’s leisure centres revealed

Victoria Park Leisure Centre, Ilkeston.
Victoria Park Leisure Centre, Ilkeston.

The private company which will take over the running of five council-owned leisure centres in Erewash has been revealed.

During the debate over awarding the contract to the preferred bidder, Erewash borough councillors were informed that they could not name the firm in question.

Part of the debate was conducted in private after the Conservatives, who are in administration, out-voted Labour.

This was slammed by Labour councillor Alex Phillips, who alleged that the authority “wants to hide this decision with a cloak of secrecy”.

However, now the name of the firm has been revealed as the Worcester-based Parkwood Leisure Ltd.

Parkwood claims to be one of the UK’s leading leisure management companies and currently runs 87 facilities across the UK and has been running since 1995. It has partnered up with 25 local authorities, including Rushcliffe Borough Council and Nottinghamshire County Council.

A statement on the company’s website reads: “As local authorities continue to try and balance austerity measures and reduced budgets for discretionary services such as leisure centres with rising populations and associated costs, there are a significant number of opportunities for Parkwood to step in and help councils alleviate this pressure, whilst looking to increase the quality of provision.”

Parkwood will take over the running of Long Eaton’s West Park Leisure Centre, Sandiacre Friesland Sports Centre, and Ilkeston’s Victoria Park Leisure Centre, Rutland Sports Park and Pewit Golf Course.

The borough council is bankrolling a half a million pound loan to help make improvements at all five sites, with the private firm fronting the rest of the costs, along with repaying the loan – at an interest rate of 4.5 per cent.

Parkwood is footing the bill for a further half a million pounds – taking overall investment to £1 million.

It is thought that the transfer will save the council £6 million over the course of the 10 year contract.

This boils down to £600,000 a year, with further savings of £300,000 a year also predicted “by reducing staff in functions which currently support the leisure service”.

The investment set to be pumped in to the leisure centres includes an expansion and improvement of gym facilities, improvements to the customer retail/vending offer, installation of new gym/spin and weightlifting equipment, and the provision of a number of new activities not currently provided. All staff will have their contracts transferred over to the new operator.