"After an extensive tendering process, we have secured a contract which will ensure improvements in the District's four leisure centres and generate significant savings in the running costs," said Councillor Johanna Howell, cabinet member for Community and Voluntary sector at Wealden District Council.
"We are particularly pleased that the company best able to meet our demands has been Freedom Leisure, our existing supplier. This should ensure smooth continuation of an excellent service which has seen increases in the number of people enjoying our leisure centres to pursue a fit and healthy lifestyle."
Freedom Leisure operates centres at Crowborough, Hailsham, Uckfield and Heathfield.
"We will be working with Freedom Leisure and the wider community to reach a number of target groups both at our main centres and out in the rural villages. These include older people, children and young people and people with disabilities. As outlined in our Active Leisure and Wellbeing Strategy, we believe big improvements can be made in residents' health and wellbeing by encouraging greater participation in physical activities.
"The new contract will see £7 million invested to provide refurbished gym areas, changing rooms, cafés and reception areas. At the same time, the amount of grant the Council pays to support the running of Wealden's leisure centres will gradually be reduced, securing savings of £6.4 million over the contract period. This represents a major saving as part of our Transformation Programme."
Scheduled improvements include 17 new spin bikes and other studio equipment at Crowborough leisure centre and 66 new pieces of kit including weights, bars and spin bikes at Hailsham.
The new contract with Freedom Leisure for the Crowborough and Hailsham Leisure Centres will be for 15 years whilst the contact will last for ten years at Uckfield and Heathfield, where the buildings are owned by East Sussex County Council. The contracts start from April 2012.
Jeff Hart, Managing Director at Freedom Leisure said: "Freedom Leisure was formed to operate the Wealden District Council contract ten years ago so we are delighted that the Council felt we should be appointed for another term. As well as a substantial investment in facilities, we have committed to increasing participation year-on-year through affordable and accessible community based schemes."
Freedom Leisure was awarded the contract for Wealden's four leisure centres after an extensive tendering process involving 12 companies, five of which were shortlisted.
The new contract includes a detailed performance monitoring system to ensure important participation, health and environmental targets are being met and a revenue sharing mechanism to allow for any excess surplus to be shared equally between the leisure operator and the Council.
Freedom Leisure, which already holds the Carbon Trust Standard across all its sites, has committed to further reducing energy usage and will invest £100,000 at the commencement of the contract in energy efficiency improvements.
Freedom Leisure(external link) is the leading not-for-profit leisure trust in the South East. It manages 34 leisure and fitness centres across Sussex, Kent and Surrey including K2 Crawley, an official training venue for the London 2012 Olympics and Guildford Spectrum, the UK's most exciting leisure complex which houses an ice rink, a 32 lane tenpin bowling centre and four swimming pools.
Freedom Leisure is committed to the provision and development of inclusive leisure and fitness facilities. Through continued investment, Freedom Leisure strives to provide a wide range of opportunities for improving health and wellbeing and maximising leisure time within all its communities.