Anger as community trust loses leisure centre contract

Aqua Vale
Aqua Vale

The awarding of a contract to run two fitness centres to a private company rather than the community trust which has run them since 2009 has been heavily criticised.

At a meeting of its cabinet in December, Aylesbury Vale District Council members elected to award a 10-year contract to run Aqua Vale in Aylesbury and the Swan Centre in Buckingham to Sport and Leisure Management Ltd.

Miles Buckinghamshire, chair of Aylesbury Vale Community Trust, said it has concerns about the ‘outcome and conduct’ of the re-tendering process and that the council had not accepted the best bid, ‘both in financial and quality terms’.

The council said it will respond to issues raised by the trust as soon as possible.

In cabinet papers, the council said the chosen bidder was the most economically advantageous. Under the new deal the council will be paid by the contractor, rather than paying it to run the centres.

The trust’s chair said: “We were extremely disappointed to find out that we were not successful in the re-tendering process.

“We do not believe that the decision they have made is in the best interests of the customers of the leisure centres.

“As a result we are taking legal advice, exploring our options and reviewing our position.”

The last 18 months have seen the trust support the Aqua Vale redevelopment, which it says has been a ‘difficult time’ for staff and customers as it has tried to maintain access to as much of the facility as possible and retain customers.

In a statement, the trust said of the multi-million pound redevelopment: “We have had some very frustrating times but have come through with an excellent facility provided by Aylesbury Vale District Council that will serve the Vale very well in the future.”