Following the piece by Cllr Martin Lee in last week’s Mansfield Chad (Facilities should be run in-house, November 18), I would like to reassure readers that the Mansfield District Leisure Trust, with Serco acting on our behalf, works very closely with Mansfield District Council to provide high quality services to all customers using our leisure centres.
Since taking over the management of Mansfield’s leisure centres two years ago, the Trust, Serco and the council have together invested over £1m in the facilities, including offering more affordable membership packages. Since then the centres have become more popular than ever, with a 19 per cent increase in users and 60 per cent increase in health and fitness memberships.
We have also created new jobs, including five apprenticeships for under 25s, which give young people the opportunity to gain on-the-job training in all aspects of running a leisure centre and allows them to work towards achieving National Vocational Qualifications.
It is very important to us that customers of all abilities are able to enjoy using our centres, which is why the Trust and Serco work with local organisations including day care centres, health related organisations and charities to provide activities tailored to the needs of different users. We are currently working closely with the council to undertake an audit to review access for disabled users at our leisure centres and to make improvements where needed.
The decision to close the sauna facility at Water Meadows Swimming and Fitness Complex in December last year, was taken following discussion between the council and the trust as it required significant investment but customer use was low. We agreed it would be better to make investments to the relaxation area at Oak Tree Leisure Centre.
Meden Sports Centre is currently closed to allow for emergency repair works and is due to reopen in the New Year. The multi-use games area and the sports hall are currently open in the evenings, and we are providing other activities at alternative leisure centres. We have also provided a temporary gym at Meden School for customers to use.
Serco recently announced that it is looking to sell its leisure business as although it is a good business with a strong future, it does not fit with the company’s future strategy, therefore Serco feels it will be better placed to develop under new ownership.
We are working very closely with Serco and the council throughout this process and in the meantime, we will continue to deliver the high quality of service customers rightly expect from us.
Brian Taylor Chairman of Mansfield District Leisure Trust