TODAY is the start of a new era for the town’s leisure and golf facilities as they are officially leased out.

Greenwich Leisure Limited will be taking over all the leisure sites while Twigmarket will take over the running of Broome Manor and Highworth Golf.

Following a consultation period the decision was announced over the summer. After several months of negotiations the move officially goes ahead today.

Users will begin to see changes immediately as signs begin to change and staff are given new uniforms. It is possible new cards will be issued as well as IT systems are transferred.

GLL runs facilities around the country and is also responsible for the day-to-day running of the Oasis.

A spokesman said: “We are delighted to now be operating Swindon’s leisure facilities under leases from the council as of November 1.

“We have successfully been running the Oasis Leisure Centre in Swindon since January 2013, so have a good knowledge and understanding of the area, and are proud to be furthering our commitment to local residents, providing first class, affordable leisure and sporting facilities under our Growing Better brand.”

The move has been made to save the council £1.4 million a year. Coun Keith Williams (Con, Shaw), the cabinet member for leisure, believes users will be better off.

“This is obviously a big day and the changes will take time to come in but users will certainly see the benefit,” he said.

“These are companies with a strong track record and lots of experience. The money we are saving can be invested elsewhere.”

Several representatives from the company will be in the town for the first few days to ensure things such as ticketing for the Wildcats game at the Link Centre run smoothly.

One area of contention are plans to relocate the West Swindon Library and move it to a different part of the Link Centre.

Coun Jim Robbins (Lab, Mannington and West) has raised a petition to try to halt the move.

He said: “The location of the library at the Link Centre is very good currently and it seems silly to change that on the whim of GLL.

“There are also concerns about access, and we have a lot of community groups, including a group of blind people and mothers with prams who would find access to the upstairs difficult.

“The space is purpose built to be a library, and it seems silly to shoehorn it into a space which is less suitable.”

Coun Williams said: “If you can secure the long-term future of the centre while increasing the opening hours then it makes sense to look at the move.

“It is something we have made clear since we announced this. It is an opportunity to effectively have a brand new fitted out library.”

GLL has said it hopes to have plans to present to the public by the end of the year and will be at the next West Swindon Forum to speak with members of the public.