New operators of Belfast leisure facilities revealed
Belfast City Council today (December 22) revealed that GLL will assume control of its leisure centres from January 1, 2015.
The company will operate all community sports and leisure facilies in the city under their 'Better' brand as part of a new non-profit Leisure Trust.
Working with the Council, the charitable social enterprise will work to improve the leisure provision in Belfast, offering affordable, customer and community-focused services to get more people active, with the aim of improving health and well being for the community.
Councillor Lee Reynolds, Chairman of the Council's Strategic Policy and Resources Committee, explained the background to the appointment:
“We agreed, in May 2014 that our leisure services would be run as a Non-profit Distributing Organisation (NPDO), to deliver a 'best in class' service to boost health and wellbeing in the city and meet the needs of our communities - including those joining us in April as part of Local Government Reform. This new business model creates a dynamic charitable organisation, which will provide an affordable, value for money service for everyone in the city will help deliver efficiencies, fresh programmes, greater outreach, better facilities and new opportunities for staff.”
The decision to transfer operation of the council's leisure centres to a NPDO is part of a £105 million investment in leisure services over the next ten years - a major financial commitment which is in addition to the council's £150 million Investment Programme which was launched in 2012 and will continue through 2015.
“The £105 investment in our leisure facilities and services is at no additional cost to the ratepayer and includes a target of reducing our current £8 million annual subsidy of leisure services by £2 million to finance the next phase of new facilities,” explained Councillor Reynolds.
“The charitable nature of the leisure trust will make sure that the public benefits from this change, and is good news for the future of the service.”
Mark Sesnan, Managing Director, GLL, said, “This is an exciting time for us here at GLL that consolidates our continued and succesful growth across the UK. We are delighted to work with Belfast City Council to help improve the leisure facilities for the benefit of all residents in Belfast. Whilst these are the first facilities we are operating in Northern Ireland, we already have extensive experience in running leisure and sporting facilities across England and Wales.
“As a charitable social enterprise and 'non profit' organisation, our main objective is to increase sports, health and physical activity in the city, helping to get more people, more active, more often. The partnership means we can provide cost efficient savings to the Council but it also means we can continue to offer first class, affordable leisure and sporting facilities, under our growing 'Better' brand, where we will begin to introduce a series of initiatives and developments to improve access for all in Belfast.”