People power – community’s £100,000 take over plans for leisure centre

Seaham Community Health and Fitness committee members, Barry Taylor and Stan Simpson are planning to take over Seaham Leisure Centre.

Seaham Community Health and Fitness committee members, Barry Taylor and Stan Simpson are planning to take over Seaham Leisure Centre.

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A COMMUNITY committee has been formed in a bid to take over a leisure centre.

A 10-strong team has created Seaham Community Health and Fitness, and has submitted a bid to take over the town’s complex.

The group will go up against Leisure Connections, which already runs the centre under contract from Durham County Council.

Barry Taylor, 48, who already leads running groups, boot camps and organises the Seaham Triathlon, among other events, is part of the volunteers’ committee which aims to operate as a charity.

As part of its proposals, it wants to invest £100,000 on improving the building.

He said: “We want to bring it back into the community. There are no councillors involved – I work with autism, we have someone who’s a college lecturer, a retired engineer, former pitmen living here in our community.

“We want to run it as a leisure centre for fitness and get more people to come in, more kids, older people, and we want to really get hold of the obesity issue and fight that.

“We want to keep on the existing staff and will also recruit people from Seaham and the local area.

“Now we’re just waiting for the council to make a decision.”

Stephen Howell, the council’s head of culture and sport, said: “Leisure Connections is contracted to run Seaham Leisure Centre for another year.

“We are currently considering future options to manage this centre and our other leisure provision throughout the county, which includes the development of a leisure trust. Once this work is concluded, a report will be presented to cabinet.”

The centre, in Deneside, has facilities including badminton, tennis and squash courts, a five-a-side pitch, a gym, aerobics space, gymnastics floor, outdoor pitches, a sauna and steam room, and function rooms, which can be used to host weddings.

Leisure Connections runs Seaham and Peterlee leisure centres under its Harpers brand name on behalf of the council.