THE COUNCILLOR leader is ‘hopeful’ that Basingstoke will see some “exciting” plans after councillors agreed to extend the contract of the company that manage three key leisure facilities in the Borough.

In partnership with Basingstoke and Deane Community Leisure Trust Serco currently manages the Aquadrome, Basingstoke Golf Centre and Tadley Health and Fitness Centre.

The current contract with the trust was due to end on December 31 the contract will be extended until 2025, as councillors reached a mutual agreement at a cabinet meeting held on Tuesday (11 January).

SEE MORE: What next for Basingstoke Leisure Park redevelopment

Leader of the council, Cllr Ken Rhatigan (Conservative Tadley North, Kingsclere & Baughurs), said: “I think it gives us an opportunity for our work to come through with a more exciting scheme on the leisure park and this indicates that we have a partner who is happy to hang around and see what comes out of those discussions and planning and that is a good thing.

“It is vital that we can give some certainty to the operator, and it does give us a chance through good communications to prove the facilities as they stand at the moment. It makes a stamp that people want to be a part of Basingstoke’s leisure facilities and it is important for residents.”

NewRiver Retail were due to redevelop Basingstoke's leisure park, home to the Aquadrome, into a designer retail village and a host of new leisure facilities, but they pulled out of the scheme in October.

This left huge questions marks over the future of Basingstoke leisure park, with £300 million of private sector investment vanishing.

Cllr Rhatigan believes in the next three years the council will see something exciting coming forward.

He added “You can be confident that we have something by the end of this contract and something that people can envision and see regardless of what it costs. We are prepared to pick up the challenge of investing in our leisure facilities.”

Cllr Rebecca Bean, cabinet member for health, wellbeing and leisure said discussions about the future of the leisure facilities are ongoing and have been made complicated by the Covid pandemic.

She added: “Ensuring our residents have a high quality of life is a key priority for the council and we are committed to supporting them to improve their health and wellbeing by accessing a range of services and facilities.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a difficult time for the borough; however it continues to have a significant impact for the leisure sector. Although facilities have been able to reopen with safety measures in place following a long period of restrictions, certain activities are taking longer to recover to pre-pandemic user levels.

“After considering several options, extending the current leisure contract until 2025 will ensure customers can continue to enjoy high quality amenities while we consider a longer-term strategy for the management of these council-owned facilities to meet changing customer needs in a post-COVID world.”

SEE ALSO: Protesters petition to save ice rink outside council offices

Cllr Andy McCormick (Labour) also supported the extension.

He added: “In a way, I am pleased that we are not allowing leisure previsions to suffer because I think it is important for us as a council to take this opportunity presented by Covid with people exercising to harness that with our leisure prevision.”

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