03:56PM, Friday 31 October 2014
A controversial plan to transfer management of Royal Borough leisure centres to a private firm has been given the green light.
The Royal Borough's cabinet unanimously approved the move to contract out the management of its leisure services to Parkwood at a special meeting in Eton Wick last night.
Under the new agreement the council will still own the buildings but rent out the centres to Parkwood, which will run them.
The council says it will save £2.6m by 2018/19 with the move.
Leader of the council, Cllr David Burbage (Con, Bray) said: "Councils across the country, of all political leaderships, have been outsourcing the management of leisure centres with excellent results. Not only will taxpayers' see a budgetary benefit, but we will be achieving this whilst safeguarding total ownership of the leisure centres throughout."
Parkwood Leisure, which manages more than 80 facilities on behalf of 25 local authorities in England and Wales, will invest £700,000 during the first year of its 20-year contract which is subject to a review after ten years.
The contract begins on January 7 next year.
Parkwood Group's chief executive Andrew Holt said: "Appointing a specialist leisure management operator brings obvious benefits and we are confident that existing centre users and staff will soon notice significant differences in terms of enhanced facilities, improved marketing and a greater choice of sports and leisure activities."
A petition was set up asking the borough to consult with leisure centre users before making 'any further commitment' to outsource management.
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