Flintshire County Council’s leisure facilities are set to be handed over to a new employee-owned and charitable company called Aura Leisure and Libraries Ltd.
Aura will take over the running of the facilities from September 1st after an agreement on all ‘financial matters’ at a Council Cabinet meeting today, Tuesday, July 19.
The move follows the council’s decision to establish a new organisation, a first for Wales and one of only a handful of employee-led organisations in the UK operating leisure, libraries and heritage services.
The ground breaking approach to delivering leisure and library services has was given strong backing by staff in a vote, turnout was 92.5% among leisure and library employees who gave a resounding 90% yes to the proposals to set up the new company
The council has also announced an investment of over £3m in sports and leisure facilities in Flintshire.
Improvement work on all main leisure centres will be carried out and will include work to essential plant, machinery and the building fabric.
Investment in the all-weather pitches at Mold Alun School, Hawarden High School and two of the six 3G pitches at Deeside Leisure Centre will see them all replaced and upgraded.
Plans for New health and fitness facilities are being developed for Mold Leisure Centre and Jade Jones Pavilion, including new changing rooms at the swimming pool in Flint.
This will greatly improve the experience for existing customers and attract new customers to both centres the council says
The proposals are the first phase of new developments with later developments being considered for other towns.
The leader of the council, Cllr Aaron Shotton, said:
It is fantastic to see the start of this new company which is owned by our current Council employees.
We will work cooperatively with Aura which means, rather than having to consider the future of some of our leisure centres and libraries, we are jointly securing jobs and investing in our leisure centres to make them better for our residents.
Around half of the local authorities in Wales have handed over the running of their leisure services to outside organisations in a bid to save money and ultimately retain leisure centres and swimming pools in the face of unprecedented austerity measures.
Community Asset Transfers of Holywell Leisure Centre and Connah’s Quay Swimming Pool, now the successful Cambrian Aquatics, has helped Flintshire retain all its leisure centres while having to make a 30% reduction in the annual budget for these services.
Christine Edwards, Chair of Aura Leisure and Libraries, said:
This is a huge milestone for Aura Leisure and Libraries.
The Board has been working really hard with employees to ensure that services are improved and that customers see a real benefit.
The announcement of two new health and fitness facilities which the company is investing in shows our commitment to make a significant difference for the residents of Flintshire.