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South Gloucestershire Council Gives Go-Ahead for Community Take-Over of Sports Pitches and Improvements to Longwell Green Sports Centre

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Published: 07/04/2016


The South Gloucestershire Communities Committee met on Wednesday 6 April to hear that negotiations to allow a range of community-based organisations to take over responsibility to run and maintain 10 sports facilities are progressing well.

As part of the Council Savings Programme (CSP) agreed in 2014, the council needs to save £145,000 a year from its sports pitch maintenance budget. The Communities Committee decided last year to adopt what is known as the ‘localism model’ to seek community-based organisations who were willing to take on a number of council-run sports facilities to preserve them for public use.

Following a public consultation process the council received many expressions of interest from local sports clubs and a range of other community-based organisations. Detailed negotiations have taken place over the past few months and the Committee was told that for all but one of the facilities, all indications are that a series of successful handovers is now likely.

The facilities in question are:
•    Bromley Heath Playing Fields
•    Bitton Pound Playing Fields
•    King George & Badminton Road Playing Fields
•    Kingswood Park Bowling Green
•    Lees Hill Playing Fields
•    Soundwell Playing Fields
•    Tennis Court and Fisher Road Playing Fields
•    Windsor Place and Barley Close Playing Fields.

Currently there are no advanced plans to hand over management of the Warmley golf course, although the door remains open and the Council is in discussion with an interested party.

The Council is not in a position to disclose the identity of each of the groups hoping to take on these facilities at this stage, for reasons of confidentiality, however new management will be bound under the agreements to continuing to make the spaces available for public use.
In many cases, the new arrangements being discussed involve a number of clubs or organisations coming together to manage facilities for the benefit of the community.

The Committee’s approval means that council officers will now proceed to finalise arrangements and arrange the transfer of management in the coming months. The pace at which these transfers happen will be dictated by the groups involved, but the aim is for all to be completed by April 2017.

Councillor Heather Goddard, Chair of the Communities Committee, said: “We are delighted that we have found so many partners in the community who share our desire to see these invaluable facilities preserved for public use. I know that the clubs and others involved can see the potential not only for continued community use, but the opportunity to grow and develop facilities and sporting chances across South Gloucestershire.

“Last year we were optimistic that the vibrant community clubs in South Gloucestershire would rise to this challenge and now we can be confident they will use these facilities as a springboard for their futures, and for residents to be able to access sporting and recreational opportunities for years to come.”

The Committee also approved plans that will see the Longwell Green Leisure Centre refurbished at a cost of just under £1.5 million.
A report to the Committee presented the full business case for redevelopment and noted that the centre was currently performing above national benchmarking levels.

But, it also said that without investment the current high level of use would lead to a decline in the high quality of facilities and a fall in customer satisfaction and income.

The Council, looked at a range of options for the future of the centre, which is managed by the Circadian Trust to ensure that the agreed project would both deliver an improved range of facilities to customers and be financially viable:
•    A new studio
•    An additional 25 stations in the fitness suite
•    New changing rooms
•    A new entrance to the building and lobby
•    More poolside showers.

The move comes four months after the Council approved plans to redevelop Bradley Stoke Leisure Centre at a cost of £3.6 million.

Work on phase one of the Bradley Stoke scheme to convert squash courts into two new, larger dance studios and refurbish the female changing rooms began in February and is due to finish in the coming weeks.

Phase two, which will create new climbing and soft play facilities in the main hall, extend the gym and café, refurbish the male changing rooms and create 130 additional parking spaces, will get under way in May 2016.

The refurbishment of Longwell Green Leisure Centre is scheduled to begin once work at Bradley Stoke is completed in 2017.

Councillor Goddard said: “We are really pleased to be able to support the Longwell Green Leisure Centre with this refurbishment. It will be a boost to existing users and we hope will encourage more people to take advantage of improved services in their neighbourhood.”


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