Thursday, 3 July 2014

A new deal for Leisure unveiled

Paul is pictured with Andy Wiggans
A new deal unveiled today will see Wigan Council work much closer with its leisure partner Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust (WLCT).

At a meeting of its cabinet, Cllr Paul Kenny committed the Council to strengthening its partnership with WLCT as part of a renewed drive to get more people in the borough healthy and active. The deal also means the council can keep the cost of visiting leisure facilities among the lowest in the region, as well as keeping Council Tax bills frozen at the same time.

As part of the deal, WLCT will focus more on managing the services that have the greatest impact on health, such as leisure centres, Sports Development and its Active Living programme. The council has also committed to a significant investment programme in sports and leisure facilities, such as Howe Bridge and Robin Park sports centre with further details to be announced soon.
Some services that are currently delivered by WLCT, such as libraries, heritage and the teams that maintain the borough's green spaces, as well as some support services, will move back to the council. This will allow the council to modernise these services in line with significant reviews that are already underway.

The future management of the borough's parks including Haigh Country Park will also be reviewed to see how best they can be managed for the benefit of users.

Paul confirmed that the health and well-being of Wigan Borough residents is the council's top priority. By allowing WLCT to focus completely on health and leisure activities, we believe together we can build on their excellent track record of increasing the levels of participation in sport and activities in the borough. We see this as a strengthening of our partnership which will help people to live longer, happier and healthier lives.

At the same time, the council still needs to save a further £40million by 2016/17 so this new relationship must provide value for money for Wigan Borough residents. This review is consistent with our policy to drive down the cost of services, by working more efficiently. It also helps us to achieve our commitment to keep Council Tax frozen. By bringing some services back in house, where there is a natural fit with our other services, we believe we can make significant savings while protecting and improving frontline services.

Andy Wiggans, Chairman of WLCT, said, “We are extremely proud of the achievements made over the past decade here in Wigan Borough and are delighted that our partnership with the council will continue and with the associated investment plans. Fundamental to this new working relationship is a renewed focus on supporting residents to make informed lifestyle choices and, as part of  The Deal, we will carry on working hard to help residents live healthier, happier lives through a sustainable leisure, health and wellbeing offer.”

Funding for public services has changed dramatically since WLCT was formed in 2003, the new deal offers the best financial package in operating the council’s services.

The aim is to complete the new deal by April 2015.

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