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Fit for Purpose – Change of Leadership at Wincanton Sports Centre

Wednesday 20 November 2013, 16:08
By Chris Fenton

Wincanton Sports Centre

Wincanton Community Sports Centre (WCSC) has been successfully running at the top of West Hill for some 12 years now.

However the time has come for a change of leadership. From 1st November 2013 it will be run by Leisure East Devon, a company that has a lot of experience in running public leisure facilities, and which has run Goldenstones swimming pool (in Yeovil) for the last two years.

The Centre has continued to go from strength to strength, and in December last year with funding from South Somerset District Council (SSDC), the gym equipment was replaced with state-of-the-art exercise facilities, which are very popular, and have increased the gym membership considerably.

New gym equipment at Wincanton Sports Centre

Matrix Fitness gym equipment

But have you ever thought who runs the Sports Centre? It is not SSDC. The Council pays an annual subsidy to the Centre to allow the facility to run, but the overall management is by a board of volunteer trustees.

There are fund-holder representatives who represent the Council on the board, but the main board consists of local people who have an interest in the Centre, and who give their time to manage it.

It is run through a Charitable Company, registered with the Charity Commission. That company employs the staff who carry out the day-to-day running of the Centre, and keep it safe, clean and tidy and maintain it for the use of all.

Wincanton Sports Centre swimming pool

I have been a trustee for four years, and in that time things have become more technical, more complicated and simply harder to keep on top of. We all have our own jobs, families and calls on our time.

In March this year our then chair, Howard Ellard, asked us to consider whether as a Board we felt able to continue to be responsible for running the centre. He pointed out that we had just had to deal with some difficult personnel issues which had taken up a lot of time. There was also the constant pressure of making the books balance at a time when costs are ever increasing, in an environment where people are under pressure and may feel they can spend less on health and leisure.

I think we had all done a lot of soul-searching already, because the Board unanimously decided that we were no longer able to provide a sufficiently technical and effective management for the Centre, even with the excellent staff that the Company employs.

Meet the team at Wincanton Sports Centre

This was reported to the Council who approached Leisure East Devon and asked them to consider taking over the Centre.

They agreed, and so with effect from 1st November the Centre is being run by Leisure East Devon, which is based in Exmouth. As a Board of Trustees we are confident that Leisure East Devon can bring to the Centre a degree of expertise and management skill which will result in a better sports centre for the town, and an improvement to the facility in years to come.

So, fit for purpose? Well, it depends how often I managed to struggle up the hill and wrestle with the rowing machine!

Chris Fenton
Chair of Trustees


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