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Sport club takeovers
A GROUP seeking to develop sport across Swindon is urging clubs to consider taking on the running of council leisure centres.
On Wednesday, Swindon Council’s cabinet will debate alternative ways of providing leisure and cultural services to cope with cuts in Government funding.
Leisure facilities, including golf courses and swimming pools, could be offered out to commercial organisations, similar to the deal with Moirai Capital Investments which secured the redevelopment of the Oasis.
The Swindon Sports Forum, which is supported by the charity Voluntary Action Swindon, is urging clubs to think about bidding to take on a long-term lease or freehold of a centre to gain funding from the body Sport England.
Sport England said it would be willing to consider bids from either the council or incoming provider for funding to improve these facilities and ensure their sustainability.
This would be under a programme called the Improvement Fund, offering grants of between £150 and £500,000.
Swindon Sports Forum chairman Stuart Coffey said: “Whilst it might look bad – cuts within the service – there’s a real opportunity for community groups to do something different, new and exciting with the facilities.
“I’m trying to get clubs to consider whether they could bid to run a centre as a centre of excellence for a particular sport.”
He said this would mean the centres would still be run for all sports but would have a special focus on one.
For example, the Dorcan centre could specialise in netball and hockey.
The forum will be contacting 190 town clubs that it has close ties with.
It is holding an open meeting at the Oasis Leisure Centre, on April 24, at 6.30pm to discuss the idea.
Mr Coffey, a member of Swindon Sonics basketball club, said: “It’s quite common around the country for sporting entities to be set up as a charitable trust.”