Leisure centre to be taken over by council

New River Sport and Fitness (credit Google Maps)
New River Sport and Fitness (credit Google Maps)

Haringey Council says move will cut costs, reports Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

A sports centre will be taken over by Haringey Council in a move it hopes will boost people’s health and fitness while cutting costs.

New River Sport and Fitness Centre in White Hart Lane, Wood Green, will be moved in-house from leisure provider Fusion in August after senior councillors gave the go-ahead at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Although the council had to subsidise the sports centre before it was transferred to Fusion in 2014, officials believe it will now generate a surplus income that can be reinvested in the facilities.

The council would have to pay a subsidy of £133,000 per year over the next eleven years if Fusion continued to run the centre, according to a report.

Speaking during the meeting, cabinet member for climate change, equalities and leisure, Kirsten Hearn, said: “Our proposal to bring in New River sports centre services will cost less than leaving it where it is.

“Running New River in-house, we can develop social value programming to reach all sections of the community.

“We want Haringey to become one of the most physically active, healthy London boroughs.

“The New River centre would welcome people who have never engaged in physical activity, regular participants and current and future elite sportspeople. The users will come from all Haringey’s communities.

“We will explore partnerships promoting diversity, such as women’s football. Insourcing this service is an opportunity to offer sports and leisure services that promote the values of this council.”

New River Sport and Fitness Centre features an athletics track, gym, studios, tennis courts and football pitches.

Before the coronavirus pandemic, it was running at an average surplus of £245,000 during the last three years following investments in the facilities by Fusion.

Liberal Democrat councillor Scott Emery asked what experience the council had in running sports centres and whether now was the right time to make the move.

Simon Farrow, the council’s interim head of parks and leisure, said he had previously been part of the team that ran New River and understood the centre “very well”.

He added: “It’s not the best time to be moving into the leisure industry, but we’ve assessed the risks and believe there is a good business case for the council to do it.

“We believe we can deliver the things Cllr Hearn talked about – not just the commercial bookings, but also a much-extended social value offer for the council and across wider council services.”

The decision to insource the running of the sports centre was agreed unanimously by cabinet members.