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FM dives in to save leisure centres

20 April 2011

A new leisure trust has been formed by senior managers in the Borough Council’s leisure services department to salvage leisure facilities in Runnymede, Surrey. The former FM is the Trust's CEO.

According to a report on Get Surrey, the online arm of the Surrey Advertiser Group of newspapers, two leisure centres were under threat of possible closure as the Council looked to cut costs, are now run by Achieve Lifestyle, a not-for-profit charity, established to take over  earlier this month.
The Get Surrey report by Russell Butt states, 'The Achieve Lifestyle management has been formed from the senior management of the leisure services department at Runneymede Borough Council with former-facilities manager, Hazel Aitken becoming chief executive officer of the two sites. Aitkin said customers would notice little change for the time-being.
She added: "The whole team are looking forward to the new challenge, as it will be a new way of working, with the opportunity to be more responsive to customer needs being a great motivator. As a local charitable trust, the services are no longer controlled by Runnymede Borough Council as it was before, a board of trustees are the supporting partners developing policy and strategy.People can look forward to a service run for them, focussed on their health and leisure needs, opposed to being part of a multi-functional local authority. We have now only one key aim - health and leisure development."
Runnymede Council was forced to seek an alternative management solution last autumn, and the formation of a new leisure trust seemed the best option.
The Trust is expected to save an estimated £150,000 in reduced business rates and VAT exemptions. Closing both centres, which had been considered also, would have saved the council £130,000.
The authority decided last summer to close Addlestone Leisure Centre during the day to save funds, a decision met with consternation by the community, however Ms Aitken said should the Trust perform well, it would look to "open ALC up more fully in the future."
The Trust receives a small management fee from the borough council to run the centres on its behalf, but the Trust aims to be entirely self-sufficient in the near future.
Ms Aitken added that surplus money made from the leisure centre will be funnelled back into it, to upgrade facilities or develop services and offset the management fee."
To read the orginal report CLICK HERE 

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