Leisure could be put out to tender

MID Suffolk is today considering tendering out the running of its leisure services in a bid to save tax payers thousands of pounds.The district council currently spends around £500,000 a year on running Stowmarket's Mid Suffolk Leisure Centre and Stradbroke Pool.

MID Suffolk is today considering tendering out the running of its leisure services in a bid to save tax payers thousands of pounds.

The district council currently spends around £500,000 a year on running Stowmarket's Mid Suffolk Leisure Centre and Stradbroke Pool.

But options now being investigated include transferring the facilities to a charitable trust or private company.

The move has been suggested as part of a review of the authority's finances.

Chris Fry, head of leisure services at the council, said: "The council is considering alternative methods of management in order to reduce the cost of these facilities to the tax payer.

"The executive committee will receive a report within the next few weeks that will recommend a way forward."

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Council-hired consultants have already carried out a report into the issue. This has suggested handing over the running to a separate organisation would be a "viable" option.

But the final decision will lay with the elected councillors - and the possibility of continuing to run the facilities has not been ruled out.

Mr Fry said: "If neither option provides the financial benefit the council is looking for, the council will continue with its in-house management.

"The aim is to provide the most competitive and cost effective way of running the facilities, which still provides the level of service expected by the people of mid Suffolk."

A similar process is already under way in the Suffolk Coastal district, with a leisure centre in Felixstowe set to be tendered out to a private company.

Councillors hope the move will save them around £200,000.

N What do you think of the proposal to tender out the running of the leisure centre and pool? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or join the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

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