Finesshed! Welwyn Hatfield Council confirms new leisure operator after merger finalised

PUBLISHED: 13:20 11 May 2018 | UPDATED: 13:20 11 May 2018

Photo (L-R): Robin Loader, chairman of Finesse Leisure; Tony Kingsbury, executive member for policy and culture at Welwyn Hatfield Council; and Joe Rham, regional director of Greenwich Leisure Ltd. Picture: Welwyn Hatfield Council.

Photo (L-R): Robin Loader, chairman of Finesse Leisure; Tony Kingsbury, executive member for policy and culture at Welwyn Hatfield Council; and Joe Rham, regional director of Greenwich Leisure Ltd. Picture: Welwyn Hatfield Council.

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Welwyn Hatfield's leisure facilities will be run by a new contractor after a merger involving Finesse was finalised.

The operator, set up by the council in 2004, has amalgamated with Greenwich Leisure Ltd, which will now manage the swim and leisure centres in Hatfield, Stanborough Park and Moneyhole Lane Playing Fields.

A Welwyn Hatfield Council spokeswoman said the merger is expected to save around £7.2million over 10 years by steadily reducing the management fee, with GLL continuing to invest surpluses into local facilities, staff, grassroots and community sports.

Finesse’s 140 staff will be transferred across to GLL, and a Community Fund to support local organisations will be set up.

GLL – which already runs Gosling Sports Park – is the largest provider of such services within the social enterprise sector, operating 275 sport, leisure and cultural facilities nationwide.

Councillor Tony Kingsbury, executive member for policy and culture, said: “Our top priority is to make our high quality facilities as accessible as possible.

“This merger will continue to improve sport and leisure provision locally and deliver value for money for Welwyn Hatfield taxpayers.”

Finesse chairman Robin Loader said: “We were keen to explore the merger, not simply due to GLL’s strength in the sector, but because of the values we both share.

“We all believe in working to improve health and wellbeing at a local level and supporting the development of better communities and services.”

The merger comes after the borough council’s Cabinet approved the transfer of Finesse Leisure’s management agreement to GLL in December last year.

GLL managing director Mark Sesnan said: “We have 25 years’ experience of running successful leisure services in partnership with our clients and are confident we can further improve the customer experience.”

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