Suffolk Coastal: Review of leisure and sports services is now under way

Council reviewing sports facilities

Council reviewing sports facilities - Credit: Archant

SPORTS and leisure chiefs have launched a review of their services.

Suffolk Coastal District Council’s cabinet has agreed to start the procurement process and advertise for companies that would be interested in running its centres in Leiston, Woodbridge and two in Felixstowe.

The contract would be for 15 years and worth nearly £13million, with a final decision likely to be made in December.

The current agreement with DC Leisure is due to end in March next year. Speaking at the cabinet meeting earlier this week, Geoff Holdcroft, cabinet member for economic development and leisure, said: “Time is pressing. We have to get on. This current contract is due to expire by the end of March next year. We need to have a new contract in place ready for then to manage all four sites.”

The council says a review of the existing facilities, taking account of their age and condition, has made it clear they would need to invest around £5.5m in coming years.

At the same meeting councillors also agreed to search for a “leisure development partner” that will support the district authority with future strategic planning and development of its leisure services.

Mr Holdcroft has previously said: “We have to ensure that we are making the right decisions. While we are confident that we can reduce the management costs considerably over the coming 15 years, the large investments needed will include us considering a whole range of funding initiatives which is why I want us to seek a partner who can offer expertise in leisure design, build and funding solutions and has a proven track record in successful delivery.

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“The clear goal will be to ensure that more people can use our leisure services and that they have been modernised to meet the needs of our residents and visitors.

“We want modern well-used leisure facilities but we have to ensure they are affordable and this partnership approach has to be the way forward.”

The council has already consulted with Sport England about its plans, which bosses say are in line with “best practice”.

News of the review had sparked concerns in Felixstowe that both its Brackenbury Sports Centre in High Road East and the leisure centre on the seafront could be demolished and replaced by one facility.

But Mr Holdcroft said it is too early to speculate about what may or may not happen. “If any plans were to be submitted for the redevelopment of one or both of these centres, they would of course require planning permission and there would be a full opportunity for everyone to give their views on what was being proposed,” he added.

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