Council considers options for sustainable future for sports centre

9:37am - 02 October 2020

North Somerset Council is exploring options for a sustainable future for Churchill Sports Centre after agreeing to end its contract with current operators GLL.

GLL has run the centre on behalf of the council for the past five years. The contract was due to end in March next year.

The centre has been closed since March due to the coronavirus pandemic. The council has been working with GLL to try to find a way to re-open the centre with restrictions still in place, but this has not proved possible.

The small venue with its narrow corridors makes it hard to put the necessary social distancing measures in place to ensure the safety of both staff and customers. Operating on a site shared with Churchill Academy and Sixth Form Centre means there are additional complexities of ensuring the safety of students at this time. 

In addition, re-opening the centre with only limited facilities would not be financially viable with the current contract due to end in just six months' time.

The council and GLL have therefore agreed an early exit to the contract.

This means the centre will not re-open this year and will remain closed while the council explores working with the community and local partners to find the best way to operate it in the future.

“It is with regret that North Somerset Council and GLL have come to this decision," said Cllr Caritas Charles, the council's executive member for leisure, culture and tourism. "Operational issues and the effects of the pandemic have unfortunately left us with no other viable option at this time. 

"The council will be in active discussions in the months ahead with the wider community in discussing possible solutions and how we can work together to provide a positive outcome for the community. Working with partners on future opportunities for this facility supports the council's continued commitment to supporting leisure provision across the district."

GLL Regional Director Jamie Coleshill said: "Charitable social enterprise leisure operator GLL has been proud to manage Churchill Sports Centre for the last five years, working in partnership with North Somerset Council to provide this valued public service for local people.

“While our social enterprise values have brought huge benefits to community health and wellbeing, the current reality is the pandemic has put huge financial pressure on local authorities and leisure providers across the country.

“We are sad to hand Churchill back to the council by mutual agreement and thank staff and customers for their loyal support.”