Posted by:8 May, 2012
There is little debate around the increasing difficulty to secure financial aid for local leisure provision but by collaborating with third parties Flintshire CC has demonstrated significant facility and service improvements during these financially challenging times. Ian Budd, director of lifelong learning at Flintshire CC, pictured, shares how they are doing this.
One of our aims is to encourage more people to take part in regular sport and physical activity, ahead of and beyond the Olympic Games, to ensure wide ranging health and social benefits throughout Flintshire. Our highly successful public-private partnership with sector specialist Alliance Leisure has allowed us to make monumental shifts in leisure provision, creating something truly inspirational for each generation in the Flintshire community. The result has been the largest refurbishment project of its kind in Wales with enhanced leisure provision, increased revenue and greater customer usage and satisfaction. All of this has been achieved with no capital outlay by the Council.
Three years ago, Deeside Leisure Centre was an ailing and underutilised site. It required considerable redevelopment in order to attract increased sporting engagement and usage but we were challenged to find a financially viable solution.
The cost of rebuilding the Centre would have been approximately £18 million. In tough economic times, dominated by public sector budget cuts, we took on an innovative approach to secure funding for redevelopment instead. We embarked on a four year strategy to make facility and service improvements for the benefit of our local community. Without accessible funding, we couldn’t have achieved anywhere near this level of leisure development.
Through Alliance we were able to benefit from external expertise and experience in delivering a £5.5 million pound regeneration project. They effectively provided us with a one-stop-shop which covered feasibility and business planning, design, building works, equipment, marketing, training and finance.
By taking a three phase approach, the project was made affordable based on detailed feasibility and business planning. Phasing also negated any exposure to escalating capital costs and allowed the centre to remain open.
In November 2010, phase one of the development saw the creation of six 5-a-side 3G turf football pitches. These have attracted over 70,000 visits since opening and generate a monthly income of £10,000.
Phase two was completed in August 2011 with the development of a health and fitness facility and toning suite. In the first six months of operation, the gym attracted 1,500 live members (as opposed to 350 members pre-development) and the toning suite signed over 190 new members. The fitness suite has already exceeded target for year one and the toning suite has signed up over 60% of its first year’s projected membership. Both facilities generate a combined income of £36,000 per month and the total income since opening has increased by 102%.
In January 2012 the third and final phase of development was completed with the opening of the first Welsh public day spa. The self-sustaining facility, comprising four treatment rooms and a large heat experience, includes a herb sauna, a spa pool, heated sun loungers and a relaxation area.
We also launched the UK’s largest Extreme Centre, which attracts customers from up to 80 miles away and is now attracting 3,000 visits per week. It caters for climbers, BMX, skateboards, scooters and inline skaters. In its first week, it sold over 200 DD memberships, equating to 70% of its annual DD membership target. Within the first month of operation, it had generated over £25,000, already exceeding its weekly target, and sold over 500 DD memberships.
The regeneration of Deeside Leisure Centre created new employment and training opportunities with appointments for a Spa Manager, therapists, Extreme staff and instructors. A 33% reduction has been made in utility costs across the facility. Income has risen across our leisure estate as a result of the systems and training put in place through the Alliance partnership. Income at our other non-development sites has seen an increase by 14% based on a year-on-year comparison.
In our experience, the focus for all local authorities should be on reducing subsidy and maximising income opportunities through lateral vision and intelligent use of space. The redevelopment of Deeside demonstrates how a fantastic opportunity can arise from an underused and costly facility. This regenerated leisure centre now boasts modern facilities to engage and inspire our local community.
Ian Budd, director of lifelong learning, Flintshire CC
Anyone wanting to learn more about Flintshire’s work with third parties on improving services can contact Mike Welch, principal leisure services officer, Flintshire CC on 01352 702452 or email email@example.com
Anyone interested in contacting Alliance Leisure, Flintshire’s partner can contact them directly through their website www.allianceleisure.co.uk
- Alliance Leisure specialises in the provision of facility development and support for Local Authorities, educational establishments and Leisure Trusts that want to improve or expand the leisure products and services they offer. To date it has undertaken 90 leisure developments and invested nearly £50m in the UK leisure market. Alliance Leisure’s objectives match those of its partners – to deliver the right scheme at the right price.
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