Trust takes over Torfaen leisure services
- 1 July 2013
- From the section Wales
Council-run leisure facilities in Torfaen have been handed over to a not-for-profit trust in an effort to create a more efficient service.
Pontypool Ski Slope, Cwmbran Stadium and Fairwater Leisure Centre are all affected.
The council will still fund them but against a background of budget cuts of up to 5% a year.
The chair of Torfaen Leisure Trust said services would be run more commercially with sales and marketing emphasised.
It would create a more sustainable model for the delivery of services, the council said.
Trust chair Alun Williams said customers would be listened to before decisions were made on upgrading facilities.
Staff members previously employed by the council will be transferred to the trust on the same terms and many will receive sales training.
'Avenues of finance'
"We've already got some great facilities in Torfaen and obviously the trust does wish to develop those for the future," said Mr Williams.
"We've a board of trustees made up of a number of various businessmen with lots of various skills and we want to bring that to bear to make this a really commercial organisation that's focused on developing leisure facilities for people from within Torfaen.
"We'll be looking to increase participation numbers, our revenue, control our costs so we develop a more financially sound model for the future. Along with that, as a charitable trust we'll be able to develop other avenues of finance in the future."
The trust will benefit from greater rate relief on its newly-inherited facilities. It will continue to receive funding from Torfaen Council, whose funding will be cut by around 4% to 5% in each of the next few years.
Olympic silver medallist Jamie Baulch said he had fond memories of Cwmbran stadium.
"To me, Cwmbran stadium is one of the best tracks in Britain but I just think people need to know about it.
"If you chat to any athlete who has trained or competed here they'll tell you fond memories of it.
"This new trust really need to advertise it - get the schools in, get the communities in, get the kids in and then once we've got everyone in we can talk about changing the facility to whatever it needs to have."
The athletics stadium's licence was reinstated last month after repairs were carried out following an inspection by UK Athletics in February which raised concerns about its condition.
Rhys Williams, a 400m European hurdles champion, trains at Cwmbran occasionally and said people needed to be aware of what was on their doorstep.
"I think here in Cwmbran and in Torfaen it's got the facilities already so it just needs to maintain the facilities. If more members of the public can come and use it they'll obviously get more revenue, so it's a two-way thing I think," he said.
Other local authorities including Neath Port Talbot and Bridgend have already handed over the day-to-day running of leisure centres to outside companies and many other councils are thought to be considering similar moves.
In 2010 Harlech pool in Gwynedd was taken over by volunteers after the council claimed it could no longer afford to maintain it.