Council-backed leisure firm reduces losses but still records deficit

One Leisure runs fitness centres on behalf of Huntingdonshire District Council

One Leisure runs fitness centres on behalf of Huntingdonshire District Council - Credit: Archant

Huntingdonshire District Council has reported that its leisure centre management firm is failing to make a profit.

At a meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Panel for Social Well-Being on September 2 it was revealed that in a financial report of One Leisure for the year 2014/2015 the council run firm had a deficit of £61,000.

Executive member for commercial activities Councillor Robin Howe said: “Our aim is to eventually deliver a service to the community at no extra cost to the community; it should not be a paid subsidised service.”

In a review by the leisure and health department at the district council it was found that One Leisure Sawtry had been a “significant drain” on the firm with a loss of £183k last year.

Head of leisure and health Jayne Wisely said: “We have carried out a review of how people use it, and how often people use the facilities.”

The outcome of the review means that there will be reduced opening times and a consolidation of management between Ramsey and Sawtry which is aimed to reduce costs.

It was also revealed that Sawtry Academy is being given the opportunity to use the facilities.

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To help save money and cut the deficit a review of staff has been carried across the five sites including Huntingdon, Ramsey, St Ives, St Neots and Sawtry.

As a result staff at Ramsey and Sawtry will be combined with a reduction in costs of £130k.

There has also been a reshuffle of managers throughout the sites with three centre manager posts being replaced by a business manager of operations and a business manager of development.

The report states: “The management restructure is expected to reduce annual expenses by £147k, however this full amount will not be realised within this financial year.”

At the meeting it was noted that the £61k deficit is an improvement on the 2013/14 out-turn of a net deficit of £375k which is a shift of £314k.

“We have a way to go before we can call it a successful business,” added Cllr Howe.

The report went before cabinet last Thursday (September 17) to update them on the progress of One Leisure.