A deal has been negotiated to protect Wellingborough’s two council-owned leisure centres for the next decade.
The deal means that both Redwell and Waendel leisure centres will remain open, but that operating hours at Redwell will change.
The signed contract between the borough council and Places for People Leisure (PfPL), who run both centres on behalf of the council, was received today and customers are being contacted to explain the changes.
Block bookings, classes and clubs will be unaffected, but casual users of Redwell’s gym, hall and courts will be unable to walk in and use the facilities before 4pm on weekdays.
Cllr Paul Bell, leader of Wellingborough Council, explained why the changes were necessary: “PfPL has a contract to operate the centres. This contract has previously included a large management fee, paid by the council to PfPL, to help with running costs. As the contract was due to expire, negotiations took place to try and reduce that fee. Renewing on the same terms was simply not an option as it would commit the council to spending millions of pounds on the service over the next 10 years, and we can no longer afford that kind of spend.
“We’re not legally obliged to fund a leisure service but we are committed to doing so as it brings so many benefits to our residents. We needed to find a solution that meant we could keep the service going, but also meant we were spending taxpayers’ money in the best possible way.”
The changes will see Redwell open only for pre-booked use between 9.30am and 4pm Monday to Friday. After 4pm until closing time at 10.30pm the centre will offer a full service, including casual use.
The changes mean that staff don’t need to be on duty for the whole day just in case someone walks in to use the centre. As only pre-booked activities would be allowed during the day, casual users of the sports hall and courts would need to make a regular block booking if they wanted to use the facilities before 4pm. Casual daytime gym customers could transfer to Waendel at no extra cost.
Cllr Bell added: “We’re very lucky to have two subsidised leisure centres in town and Waendel is only a mile away from Redwell. All gym users will also be offered an extended membership for 12 months, so they can swap between the two centres to fit in with the new opening times.
“There will be some inconvenience for the small number of people these changes affect, but the vast majority of Redwell customers will be accommodated either under different arrangements or at the other site.
“Crucially, reducing costs in this way means that we have been able to get a contract signed that secures the long-term future of both leisure centres for everyone to use.”