Leisure centre merger across West Suffolk hoping to save money

Warren Smyth, joint chief executive of Abbeycroft Leisure and Anglia Community Leisure, working out

Warren Smyth, joint chief executive of Abbeycroft Leisure and Anglia Community Leisure, working out at the gym in Haverhill Leisure Centre

Abbeycroft Leisure, who run leisure centres across west Suffolk, will become the largest leisure trust in the county when it merges in April.

The company will merge with Anglia Community Leisure subject to approval from Forest Heath District and St Edmundsbury Borough Council, who own the leisure centres.

It is hoped the merger will save money but also bring better services to members and residents who use the centres.

Bury St Edmunds, Haverhill, Newmarket, Brandon and Mildenhall’s The Dome centres will come together under one trust, along with Mildenhall Swimming Pool.

The board of trustees for both trusts have approved the merger and it is hoped the move will be approved by the councils on February 27. It will mean that the new organisation will be the largest leisure trust geographically in Suffolk.

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The trust is aiming to make all the leisure centre and swimming pool facilities that they run across the county available to members.

Warren Smyth, joint chief executive of Abbeycroft Leisure and Anglia Community Leisure, said: “The merger will create a stronger, efficient and effective leisure trust for west Suffolk and protect services for the future.

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“This is an exciting time for leisure and fitness in Suffolk as more and more people are understanding the huge benefits that come with being active beyond weight loss.”

Chairman of Anglia Community Leisure, Anne Greenfield, said: “We have exciting times ahead for Anglia Community Leisure.

“More than two years ago our leisure trust decided that to achieve financial and business efficiencies we would share a chief executive with our neighbouring leisure trust Abbeycroft.

“This has already proved successful with achieving a shared management team and other significant benefits to the business as well as to our customers.

“Both Anglia and Abbeycroft have had joint board meetings and we have identified common objectives for our leisure businesses.”

The organisation’s new board will be led by current Abbeycroft chairman Sarah Howard.

She said: “This is an exciting step forward for both trusts as we combine our expertise and come together stronger and more efficient for the future.”

Warwick Hirst, Forest Heath cabinet member for health, leisure and culture, said: “We have a good working relationship with both trusts and we are confident that this will continue should the merger go ahead.

“More importantly, we are happy that this will make the delivery of leisure services to our residents across west Suffolk even better.”

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