Private firm to be brought in to help run Sunderland’s leisure centres

Silksworth  swimming pool at Sunderland Puma centre
Silksworth swimming pool at Sunderland Puma centre
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COUNCIL bosses are looking for a new team to run the city’s sports facilities.

The city council’s Cabinet is being asked to decide the appointment of a joint venture partner to operate leisure centres across Wearside when it meets next week.

The council confirmed last year it was seeking a partner, and Cabinet members will decide between the remaining two bidders when they meet on Wednesday.

The plan will see the council forming an equal partnership with the preferred bidder, each having a 50 per cent stake.

Councillor John Kelly is Sunderland City Council’s Portfolio Holder for Public Health, Wellness and Culture: “Setting up a joint venture company will allow us to retain an ongoing interest in our fantastic leisure facilities. We believe it will also result in further investment in our facilities and the enhancement and expansion of our services.

“Most importantly it will help us increase activity levels across the city by complementing the excellent work that is already underway through Active Sunderland, at the same time as achieving the savings we need to make in the long term.”

One of the challenges facing the new partnership is encouraging more people to take part in physical activity, sport and leisure. This will build on work already under way through the Active Sunderland scheme, which works with individuals, schools, communities and sports clubs.

The most recent statistics show that 34.7 per cent of over-16s in Sunderland currently take part in sport and physical activity for 30 minutes once a week compared with the North East average of 33.9 per cent.

The £11.3m refurbishment of Washington Leisure Centre is due to end soon, completing renewal of the city’s leisure facilities.