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Suffolk leisure trusts to merge following council approval

Warren Smyth and Tracey Loynds Picture: WARREN PAGE

Warren Smyth and Tracey Loynds Picture: WARREN PAGE

Archant

Two charitable trusts – which manage leisure facilities in south and west Suffolk – will merge after plans were approved by Babergh District Council.

Abbeycroft Leisure and South Suffolk Leisure will form a new single trust from October 1 – under the name of Abbeycroft – and will be the largest leisure trust geographically in the county.

The two trusts currently manage leisure facilities in partnership with Babergh, Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council.

The proposal was approved yesterday by Babergh, which owns the buildings housing Kingfisher Leisure Centre in Sudbury and Hadleigh Swimming Pool.

Margaret Maybury, Babergh cabinet member for communities, said: “Although people will not notice a difference in the daily running of the Kingfisher Leisure Centre or Hadleigh Swimming Pool, this merger is set to create even more opportunities for people who live and work in Babergh to get involved in sport and physical activity, which is one of the council’s priorities.”

Jo Rayner and Andy Drummond, cabinet members for leisure and culture at St Edmundsbury Borough and Forest Heath District Councils, said: “All our councils have a priority to help people be more active and the demand for amenities and services that support healthier lifestyles is set to grow.

“This merger will help meet that demand by offering residents in south and west Suffolk even more opportunities to choose from.”

Warren Smyth, chief executive officer of Abbeycroft Leisure, said: “We have been working with South Suffolk Leisure informally for some time so it makes sense that we come together on a formal basis.

“The trusts have a similar approach and both organisations are looking forward to the exciting opportunities that this merger brings.”

Tracey Loynds, chief executive officer of South Suffolk Leisure, said: “Working together we will support the health and wellbeing of 2million users each year and generate employment for 664 staff.

“Working together offers real strength for the 13 communities we are currently working in.”

Chairman of South Suffolk Leisure Tim Mutum said: “I’m delighted that a period of collaborative working between the two Trusts has led to a merger which I am confident will further enhance the quality leisure services we both provide.”

The merged organisation will also mean the boards of trustees for both trusts will come together, and the board will be led by current Abbeycroft chairman Sarah Howard.

She said: “This merger is absolutely the right thing for Suffolk, bringing more opportunities to provide high quality, accessible sport, leisure and physical activity - which will continue to be our key priority.”

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