Wealden District Council
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Heathfield Leisure Centre to pass back to East Sussex County Council

Publish Date: 26 September 2022

Wealden District Council’s 20-year partnership between East Sussex County Council and Freedom Leisure will come to an end next month as Heathfield Leisure Centre will be handed back to the county council.

heathfield leisure centre in the background surrounded by trees. gravel car park with grass verge and a sign that says Heathfield Leisure Centre are in the foreground

Following a decision by the county council, Heathfield Leisure Centre will be available to Heathfield Community College for curriculum use only, from 17 October.

Current users of Heathfield Leisure Centre will be able to use facilities at neighbouring leisure centres in Uckfield, Crowborough and Hailsham, which continue to be operated by Freedom Leisure.

Under a lease from East Sussex Country Council, Wealden District Council has operated Heathfield Leisure Centre in conjunction with Freedom Leisure since 2002. But two years ago Wealden gave notice to the county council that it would be handing it back as per the original agreement. It was no longer considered helpful to have an additional tier of local government involved in running a county council owned facility.

The leisure centre site mainly provides sports facilities for Heathfield Community College but community provision has been delivered by Freedom Leisure outside of college hours offering health and wellbeing opportunities for local residents.

To enable the county council to consider its options, Wealden District Council supported an extension between the two councils and Freedom Leisure.

That extension expires on 17 October and on that date, control of the centre will revert back to the county council.

East Sussex County Council undertook a six week public consultation on its future use. At a recent meeting East Sussex County Council’s lead member for Resources & Climate Change Councillor Nick Bennett agreed to cease provision of non-college community use at Heathfield Leisure Centre from October.

Councillor Philip Lunn, Wealden District Council’s portfolio holder for Leisure, said, “Discussions have been ongoing with East Sussex County Council since 2020 when we gave notice to hand the leisure centre back and we have been supporting the county council to consider options for the operation of the facility.”

Ivan Horsfall Turner, the chief executive officer of not-for-profit leisure trust Freedom Leisure, said, “We would like to thank all our loyal customers in Heathfield, it has been a pleasure to serve your community and improve lives through leisure. It is very much our hope that the users of Heathfield will continue to benefit from regular exercise at one of our nearby centres well into the future.”

Freedom Leisure will be contacting existing Heathfield customers over the coming weeks to explain the options to transfer their membership at their current rate.