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HOUNSLOW TO HIVE OFF LEISURE TO CHARITY

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Hounslow LBC is to transfer its entire leisure department over to a charitable trust in a bid to save cash and jobs...
Hounslow LBC is to transfer its entire leisure department over to a charitable trust in a bid to save cash and jobs, reports the Evening Standard (p16).

The trust, covering sports centres, parks and libraries, will be run by volunteers who live and work in the borough, and the radical step could save£750,000 a year because the charity will be exempt from business rates and VAT, says the Evening Standard.

Hounslow, which aims to approve the plans later this month, will retain monitoring rights over the trust and the option of scrapping it after a year if the experiment fails.

Leisure services director Howard Simmons said there were still a few worries about the move but budget cuts meant the alternative was to close venues and slash jobs, he told the Standard.

Unison, which represents most of the leisure department's 1,260 employees said implications of the transfer were 'worrying'.

The council would keep ownership of the buildings covered by the plans, but they would be run by the charitable board set up.

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