New operator is appointed for leisure centre

The Cambridge Meridian Academy Trust has taken on responsibility for the centre.

The Cambridge Meridian Academy Trust has taken on responsibility for the centre. - Credit: Archant

The new operator for the One Leisure centre at Sawtry has been named as Stevenage Leisure Ltd (SLL).

SLL won the tender for a one-year contract to run the leisure centre, attached to Sawtry Village Academy, from Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust (CMAT).

However, it remains unclear how the move, which comes into effect on October 1, will impact on users, including services on offer, charges, and the name it will operate under.

SLL was asked how the change would affect customers and it replied: "SLL is aiming to work in partnership with CMAT from commencement of management to identify any areas of improvement to provide high quality services to the local community."

The leisure centre had been part of the One Leisure network run by Huntingdonshire District Council, which also has outlets in Huntingdon, St Neots, St Ives and Ramsey, all sharing school sites.

Sawtry Village Academy is now run by CMAT which selected SLL to operate the leisure centre, which offers activities including, swimming, fitness and sport.

SLL currently operates 24 leisure and cultural centres in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Rutland. It is a registered charity and a not for profit organisation, with any surpluses going towards improving services.

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Ian Morton, SLL managing director, said: "It's great news that SLL has expanded to provide services in a new county.

"We look forward to working in partnership with CMAT to help the local community be healthy, happy and enjoy their leisure."

SLL said the trust improved physical and mental health and wellbeing by promoting healthier and more active communities and providing choice and incentives for all to participate through imaginative and inclusive programming.

The centre had been costing the district council about £70,000 a year in deficits.

In July the Hunts Post told how a new operator was being sought for Sawtry's One Leisure, with the council seeking to hand the building over to CMAT which had already started the process of finding a third party provider.

At the time the council said the move to an alternative provider would not mean any changes to the way users accessed services.

The council has been investing in its facilities with the aim of attracting more customers to increase income and offset rises in Council Tax.

It has announced a £450,000 scheme for a fitness centre at One Leisure's outdoor centre in St Ives which would be run by a third party operator.

The initiative is expected to bring in more customers to the centre, which also has a deficit of around £70,000, than the present squash courts which are being axed to make space.