Ipswich Council could stop running Maidenhall sports centre – and close crèche facilities

Maidenhall Sports centre is being transferred to the school's management.

Maidenhall Sports centre is being transferred to the school's management.

Ipswich council is considering handing over the management of the Maidenhall Sports Centre to Stoke High in a bid to involve the local community more.

And the long-term future of the Northgate Sports Centre – the town’s main athletics centre – is also under review, although it is likely to remain under the borough’s management for some time.

Changes to the way the sports centres are run are to be discussed by the borough’s executive on Tuesday – and the same meeting is set to close the creche facilities that are offered to some people using them in a cost-cutting move.

Maidenhall is the least-used of the borough’s sports centres and it is shared with Stoke High School – Ormiston Academy – so its facilities are only available to the public in the evenings, weekends and school holidays.

It is the only sports centre without a public gym and it is mainly used by clubs from around the town – it has few casual activities.

The management of the centre is likely to be transferred to the Ormiston Academies Trust from September this year – and the borough hopes this will increase community involvement.

At present the clubs that use the centre tend to attract members from across the town, they are not focussed on the Stoke Park area, it is hoped that by tying its management to that of the school it will encourage more local involvement.

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Northgate Sports Centre is also shared with the high school – but it will continue to be managed by the borough for at least the next 18 months and possibly longer.

It is a focus for athletics from across Ipswich and south east Suffolk generally – although like Maidenhall its facilities are not open to the general public during school days.

Northgate High is still an LEA-run school and until its future management is settled, the borough is likely to continue running the sports centre.

The creche facilities offered to people using sports centres are likely to be discontinued because the demand has fallen over the years but the costs have risen as new legislation has increased the number of trained staff needed to be on duty at any one time.

The head of service at Ipswich council James Fairclough said: “There are now many more professional childcare facilities than there were in the past and there simply is not the demand for our services.

“If we are to run a creche we have to ensure we have enough people on duty even though they may not be needed – and that is becoming increasingly expensive.”

Ending the creche service will save £65,000 a year. Handing over the management of Maidenhall Sports Centre would save the council £125,000 a year.

Mr Fairclough said if Maidenhall was transferred to Stoke High’s management it would not lead to any redundancies – staff worked across the councils sports centres.

There are borough sports centres at Gainsborough and Whitton as well as Maidenhall and Northgate – and there is a gym at Crown Pools.

A spokeswoman for Stoke High said: “Ipswich Council is still in discussion over the management of the Maidenhall Sports Centre and one option is transferring it to Stoke High School, which currently shares the facilities.

“At Stoke High we are committed to being at the heart of the community we serve, and this philosophy will be at the front and centre of any decision taken regarding the Sports Centre.

“We encourage healthy lifestyles and learning amongst all our students, and would be delighted to extend this offering even further.”