Welwyn Hatfield Council's leisure contractor Finesse set for merger

PUBLISHED: 11:10 28 November 2017 | UPDATED: 11:30 28 November 2017

Hatfield Swim and Leisure Centres, Stanborough Park and Moneyhole Lane Playing Fields are all currently run by Finesse.

Hatfield Swim and Leisure Centres, Stanborough Park and Moneyhole Lane Playing Fields are all currently run by Finesse.

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Welwyn Hatfield's leisure facilities could soon be run by a new contractor after details of an imminent merger were leaked.

Finesse Leisure, set up by the council in 2004 to run its leisure facilities, is currently in talks with Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL) over a potential amalgamation.

The deal could see GLL run all seven council-owned sites by April 2018, which include Hatfield Leisure and Swim Centres, Stanborough Park and Moneyhole Lane Playing Fields.

Councillor Tony Kingsbury, executive member for policy and culture, said: “We believe a potential merger could bring together the many strengths of GLL and Finesse in a way that will benefit all our communities.

“Open spaces, activity and exercise are so important to our wellbeing and residents would be able to continue enjoying the same high-quality, affordable facilities locally and have access to hundreds of GLL sites up and down the country.”

Lib Dem councillor Malcolm Cowan said there has been rising discontent about Finesse’s performance and the move was long overdue.

But he added: “We have to hope the contracts allow the council to have a say in how the sites are run, and are not sacrificed to the greater glory of Greenwich, who are a massive operation.”

GLL, which already runs WGC’s Gosling Sports Park, is the UK’s largest leisure social enterprise, operating 275 facilities nationwide under its ‘Better’ brand.

Finesse has around 140 staff, who would all be transferred across to GLL with job security for 12 months if the merger goes ahead, a council spokeswoman confirmed.

She added that the potential merger would lead to “considerable” savings, but the exact figure cannot be revealed until the deal is finalised.

Finesse chairman Robin Loader said: “We were keen to explore a 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.”

Welwyn Hatfield Council’s Cabinet will be asked to approve the transfer of Finesse’s management agreement to GLL at a meeting on Tuesday, December 5.

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.”

The company invests all surpluses into local facilities, its staff and community sports.

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