Trust to take over management of leisure centres and libraries
A REVOLUTION in the way sport, culture and leisure services in North East Lincolnshire are managed is being pioneered by council leaders.
A new not-for-profit trust is set to be up and running by 2013, with a board of trustees taking responsibility for managing a range of services run by North East Lincolnshire Council (NELC) and its partners, including leisure centres, libraries and Meridian Park.
Other local authorities have already launched similar schemes, with Falkirk Council expecting its trust to save the council £1 million a year on rates and VAT.
In North East Lincolnshire, substantial savings are also expected to be made by the council ending its contract with SLM Leisure, which has run the borough's leisure centres for the last ten years.
Councillor Mick Burnett, portfolio holder for health, wellbeing, tourism and leisure, said these savings could then allow outdated buildings, such as Grimsby Leisure Centre and Grimsby Swimming Pool, to be rebuilt.
He said: "Setting up a trust to manage culture, sport and leisure services will benefit everybody in North East Lincolnshire.
"Because it will be a not-for-profit organisation, there are massive financial savings to be had. The trust would also be able to apply for grant funding to improve buildings and facilities, which the council cannot.
"As with all councils, we are under major pressure to make financial savings and that means we have got to look at how we can manage all of our operations differently."
Councillor Burnett said the new trust is set to be launched in March 2013, when the council's extended contract with SLM Leisure expires.
As reported, the contract was due to end this month, but it has been extended to allow time for the trust to be established.
Councillor Burnett said: "Setting up the trust is a long process that will require a lot of work. We are still in the very early stages, but I must stress that this is not about people losing jobs.
"The Labour administration is very committed to protecting local jobs and ensuring we continue to deliver quality sport, leisure and cultural services.
"It is simply about a change in the way these services are managed."
It is believed that the trust would be run by a small number of trustees, with council officers and councillors being in the minority.
The trust would be given responsibility for managing the council's budget for leisure, sport and culture – an amount which NELC has declined to reveal.