Council could take over gyms in Peterlee and Seaham

Seaham Leisure Centre.
Seaham Leisure Centre.

Leisure centres in Peterlee and Seaham could be taken over by Durham County Council (DCC).

The running of the two gyms, currently run by 1Life, a fitness firm, could be brought in-house when their contracts expire in two years time.

Peterlee Leisure Centre.

Peterlee Leisure Centre.

The proposal has been raised after the council stepped in to run leisure and arts services in Consett and Stanley following the collapse of Derwentside Trust for Sport and the Art, which previously traded as Leisureworks.

DCC’s head of culture and sport Steve Howell updated members of the Environment and Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

He said: “We know the 1Life contracts come to an end in two years’ time and we have the opportunity to have all contracts in-house under a single model.

“That allows us to have control of standards across the county.”

Leisureworks was set up in 2007 to run the Louisa Centre, in Stanley, Consett’s Empire Theatre and Consett Leisure Centre, as well as Blackhill and Consett Park, Annfield Plain Park and View Lane Park, in Stanley.

Most of the 283 staff were transferred over to the employment of DCC when the council took over running the services in April, but there were also eight redundancies in roles related to the management of the trust.

According to Mr Howell, the council’s initial cost estimate for its first year running the services in Consett and Stanley is about £1.812m.

However, it also hopes to have knocked about £800,000 off this bill by Christmas through contract and pricing reviews as well as other ‘efficiencies’.

Speaking at the meeting, Coun Stuart Dunn said: “I think we need to recognise there’s a lot of work gone into this and the council has got a new leisure centre and library.

“The move seems to be bringing money back to the budget and this is a real success story and I think that needs to be recognised.”

James Harrison

James Harrison , Local Democracy Reporting Service