Portland Leisure Centre: Notts County charity prepares to take over

Portland Leisure Centre
Image caption Steve Hill said the charity had plans to offer a range of new local services at the leisure centre

A charity linked to Notts County will take over a leisure centre next month, saving it from the threat of closure.

The future of the Portland Leisure Centre was in doubt because of the budget pressures faced by Nottingham City Council.

In July Notts County FC's Football in the Community (FITC) charity was chosen as the preferred bidder to take over.

It said it hoped the links with football would encourage more people to use the centre.

The charity's community director Steve Hill said: "It is pretty unusual and there is lots of interest in this nationally.

"It is about bringing us closer to the community and ensures the community continue to get access to the Portland Centre."

Plans to get outside help to run the centre were proposed by the city council in last year's budget as it looked at ways of saving £21m.

The centre will be leased out on a 25-year deal from 1 September.

Mr Hill said the centre would also offer health services, specialist activities for disabled children and educational support for adults and young people.

The Notts County FITC charity receives funding from the Premier League but it said it hoped extra funding could be obtained to refurbish the centre.

Tim Hatton, the charity's business development manager said the link with sport and football would encourage more people to access the health services.

"Most people in Britain like football and so clubs across the country are finding ways to attract people," he said.

"Things like mental health projects which engage men who don't like talking about mental health, we get them to talk about football and their mental health.

"Or men with weight management problems that don't like going to their doctors can come to our sessions because they see the link with football and that's why they come."

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