Northumberland County Council’s leisure services are to be managed by Places for People Leisure Management Limited from April next year.

The Council was supported by SLC who worked with the Council to undertake a procurement strategy and to provide support aimed at transforming the current provision to a Community Leisure and Wellbeing Service. The procurement follows a major leisure review in Northumberland undertaken by the Council that seeks to improve the health and wellbeing of residents in the county.

The review developed a county-wide strategy to tackle inequalities, increase physical activity, improve access and encourage greater participation in physical activity, working with a range of partners.

The new contract includes the Council’s 10 core leisure centres and an Active Communities function aimed at those residents unable to access leisure facilities needing opportunities within their local community.

SLC’s Director for the project Anna Dalton commented:

“The Council did not want their requirement to be for an ordinary leisure contract but one that is fully aligned with its priority of addressing inequalities. They also wanted an operator that could provide a financial return on the substantial investment in facilities that the Council has made in recent years. We’re thrilled to have been able to support them in achieving such a positive outcome.”

Northumberland County Councillor Jeff Watson, cabinet member with responsibility for Healthy Lives said in a recent press release: “We’re pleased to announce Places for People Leisure Limited as the winner in a strong field”.

“Health inequalities exist within Northumberland, so we took this opportunity to review and adapt our leisure services offer to incorporate a greater focus on the health and wellbeing of the wider community.”

“The robust procurement process evaluated bids from six leading operators and secured the winner who are most likely to achieve this ambition with us as a partnership. We believe Places for People Leisure Limited are the best fit for this brief.”

Over recent years, the County Council has undertaken a countywide £105 million investment programme to upgrade and transform sport and leisure facilities across Northumberland. This has included major investment to refurbish and revitalise sports centres in Hexham, Newbiggin and Blyth and build new leisure centres for Ponteland, Berwick and Morpeth.

Cllr Watson added: “We’ve made a huge investment into the leisure facilities in this county and this contract reflects our ambitions to maximise that investment and to provide a high quality, value for money leisure and wellbeing service that meets the needs of residents and close the inequalities gaps that prevent some population groups from taking part in physical activity.”