The level of community access to Crewkerne Sports Centre at Wadham may be reduced when it is transferred to Wadham School at the beginning of next year.
Somerset County Council has recommended that it should stop commissioning eight leisure centres currently run by 1610 Limited, at school sites, when the 10 year contract expires at the end of March 2019.
Somerset County Council has been in discussion with 1610 and the schools for some time regarding the end of the contract. Cllr David Hall, cabinet member for economic development, planning and community infrastructure said: “As much as we might like to support access to leisure facilities, it is not something for which we have a statutory responsibility, therefore in these challenging times we are no longer able to provide the funding necessary to support it.
“We are committed to delivering the very best services possible, but we have to live within our means. We would be delighted to see community access continue but completely understand this may not be possible in all cases.” None of the eight leisure centres affected by the contract are expected to close, however the county council has confirmed that the level of community access may be reduced as the schools would not be obligated to provide community access as part of any agreement to take on the facilities.
Under the current contract, SCC pays 1610 an annual fee to run the leisure centres and is responsible for repairs and maintenance on the buildings it owns. The county council understands that it can save around £900,000 a year by no longer commissioning these services. The final decision on the transfer of the buildings will be made by SCC on December 10th. If the recommendations are approved, the transfer of the leisure centres affected will be phased in during January, February and March 2019.
Wadham School and the other seven schools or academies in Castle Cary, Taunton, Glastonbury, Stoke-sub-Hamdon, Minehead, Highbridge and Yeovil will have the option to run the leisure centres themselves or bring in a company to run them on their behalf. Of the eight leisure centres affected, new leases have already been agreed with 1610 Limited by the King Alfred School in Highbridge and Preston School in Yeovil.
The 1610 sports centre in Crewkerne at Wadham currently offers a range of indoor and outdoor sports including badminton, netball, 5-A-Side football, tennis, cricket and gymnastics. It is also available to hire for children’s birthday parties with a fun zone and is home to Merriott Majorettes for their regular practice session and annual area competition/tournament. It is hoped that Wadham School will permit access to the public and community groups to carry on with their weekly sports and activities, out of school hours, after the building is transferred from SCC to the school.