This week (11 October), Huntingdonshire District Council (HDC) agreed a one-off payment of £80,000 to secure the leisure provision in Sawtry, across the next two years.
HDC was approached by Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust (CMAT) and Stevenage Leisure Ltd (SLL), to cover a funding gap that would guarantee that the Sawtry and wider community continue to have access to the leisure facility in the village.
This move supports CMAT’s future strategy to run the facility to aid its curriculum and students, and therefore, CMAT approached HDC for help to bridge the funding gap generated by the new management partnership with SLL, the company chosen as part of CMAT’s procurement process to seek a leisure provider for the facility. HDC responded to the community’s request and has approved the payment, with the conditions that community use of the facilities will be protected, at a minimum of what is currently provided, for the next 24 months.
John Palmer, Executive Councillor for Partnerships & Wellbeing, said: “This decision was one that makes perfect sense for the authority; we are staying committed to leisure provisions within our District whilst ensuring that the Sawtry facility can be managed successfully for the local and surrounding communities.
“It was important for us to be able to protect the rights and access of the current users of Sawtry’s leisure facility, and I am pleased that we have been able to do so. The complete closure of the facility would have been the worst case scenario; therefore it is great news that we have managed to avoid this by helping to bridge the funding gap.”
Moving forward the facility will be run via management agreement between SLL and CMAT, moving away from One Leisure management. However, in securing the next two years for community members, HDC has stayed committed to its aim of improving health & wellbeing across the District as well as securing the medium-term future of Sawtry’s fitness provision.
One Leisure continues to operate the remaining centres in the District; Huntingdon, Ramsey, St Neots, St Ives (Indoor) and St Ives (Outdoor). It is HDC’s vision to support good health and wellbeing wherever possible through the services provided, the way those services are delivered and in collaboration with others.