Overhaul of Southend leisure facilities provision

Schools in Southend could be given an opportunity to provide some leisure facilities under a council overhaul of the current offering in the city.

Southend City Council has ruled out continuing its contract with Fusion Lifestyle over a catalogue of problems and complaints.

Fusion currently runs all the city’s leisure centres including its swimming pools and Southend Leisure and Tennis Centre at Garons Park, in Eastern Avenue, but the council is looking for a new operator.

Carole Mulroney, councillor responsible for environment, culture and tourism, told a cabinet meeting on Tuesday schools are interested in playing a bigger part in future leisure provision.

She said: “Over the last three years, with the pandemic people’s look at sport has changed considerably so we need to work out what people want nowadays and it may not be what we see as a traditional leisure centre.

“There are services provided by various educational establishments across the city. There are swimming pools and other facilities and we will want to look at this a based approach, giving the schools the opportunity to provide and run facilities giving them ownership of it and how they shape their own future. Some have already indicated they are keen to look into this.”

A preferred option is for the council to appoint an operator to take on the service which could be existing not-for-profit, a hybrid not-for-profit or the private sector.

If approved the council will start a procurement exercise to appoint a provider to be the council’s leisure operator from 2025.

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter