Suffolk-based charitable leisure trusts Abbeycroft Leisure and South Suffolk Leisure are to merge, following local authority approval.
The two trusts manage leisure facilities in partnership with Babergh District Council, Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council along with delivering a broad range of initiatives that encourage people to participate in physical activity.
The merger was approved yesterday by Babergh District Council, which own the buildings housing Kingfisher Leisure Centre and Hadleigh Swimming Pool and commissions leisure services.
The new leisure trust will commence operation from 1st October 2018 under the name Abbeycroft Leisure. It will mean that the new organisation will be the largest leisure trust geographically in Suffolk.
Babergh District Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities, Councillor Margaret Maybury, said: “Although people will not notice a difference in the daily running of the Kingfisher Leisure Centre or Hadleigh Swimming Pool, this merger is set to create even more opportunities for people who live and work in Babergh to get involved in sport and physical activity, which is one of the council’s priorities.”
Cllr Jo Rayner and Cllr Andy Drummond, Cabinet members for Leisure and Culture at St Edmundsbury Borough and Forest Heath District Councils said, ‘All our councils have a priority to help people be more active and the demand for amenities and services that support healthier lifestyles is set to grow. This merger will help meet that demand by offering residents in south and west Suffolk even more opportunities to choose from.’
Warren Smyth, Chief Executive Officer of Abbeycroft Leisure said: “We have been working with South Suffolk Leisure informally for some time so it makes sense that we come together on a formal basis. The trusts have a similar approach and both organisations are looking forward to the exciting opportunities that this merger brings”
Tracey Loynds, Chief Executive Officer of South Suffolk Leisure said: “Working together we will support the health and wellbeing of 2 million users each year and generate employment for 664 staff. Working together offers real strength for the 13 communities we are currently working in.”
Chairman of South Suffolk Leisure Tim Mutum said: “I’m delighted that a period of collaborative working between the two Trusts has led to a merger which I am confident will further enhance the quality leisure services we both provide.”
The merged organisation will also mean the Boards of trustees for both Abbeycroft and South Suffolk Leisure will come together. The Board will be led by current Abbeycroft Chairman Sarah Howard.
Sarah said “This merger is absolutely the right thing for Suffolk, bringing more opportunities to provide high quality, accessible sport, leisure and physical activity - which will continue to be our key priority”