Threat to jobs at Sandy Leisure Centre

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Lesiure staff at Sandy Sports and Community Centre are facing losing their jobs after contractors for Central Bedfordshire Council admitted it had been operating at a loss for several years.

The staff at the Engayne Avenue centre, based in what is now Sandy Secondary School, were put under notice of possible redundancy last week.

In a letter to staff, seen by the Chronicle, contractors Stevenage Leisure Ltd (SLL) said: “CBC has given notice to Sandy Upper School [now secondary school] that the sports facilities will revert to school management at the proposed date of October 28, 2018 and that SLL’s management contract will be limited to management of the gym and the Jenkins Pavilion.

“Actions will be taken to physically cut off the school buildings from the gym area and SLL’s activities will reduce as a result.”

The letter also states the leisure operation at Sandy needs to reduce operational costs to make it affordable to CBC and SLL.

Local clubs has also been getting in touch with the Chronicle to say they have been told facilities will no longer be available at the end of next month.

One resident said: “I have been a resident of Sandy for the last 49 years and for most of that time, there has been a sports centre available to the community at Sandy Upper School which includes an indoor sports hall, squash courts and outdoor netball and tennis courts.

“All of these facilities have been well used by local groups.

“It has been bought to my attention this week, that these facilities will no longer be available for members of the local community to use as from the end of October. There are many clubs who use the sports hall for badminton, 5 a side football etc.”

A spokesman for CBC and SLL said: “The council operates six leisure centres, including Sandy Sports and Community Centre where there is a health and fitness facility, athletics track and community access to Sandy Secondary School’s leisure facilities. They are an important part of the council’s leisure provision across Central Bedfordshire and we remain committed to providing leisure activities in the area. However, the financial model at Sandy needs to be on a more sustainable footing, as it has been operating at a loss for several years. We have been exploring options to reduce the leisure operating costs but maintain leisure provision as much as possible.

“We are discussing with the school and our leisure contractors, Stevenage Leisure Limited, to see how best the leisure activities at Sandy can be continued, and to minimise any impact on customers and Stevenage Leisure staff as far as possible. Stevenage Leisure has been consulting with its staff, and we will be consulting with the public on what and how we provide leisure activities in that area in the future.”

SLL also runs several other leisure facilities in Bedfordshire including Houghton Regis Leisure Centre, Tiddenfoot Leisure Centre, The Grove Theatre in Dunstable and Silsoe Community Sports Centre.

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