UNIONS say the outsourcing of council leisure facilities is being ‘done in a rush’.
Cheshire West and Chester Council will hand over responsibility for the management of 17 sites, including leisure centres at Northgate Arena, Christleton, Frodsham and Malpas to a not-for-profit organisation by the end of April.
The unions says the move will affect about 600 staff who will be employed by the community interest company (CIC).
Ray McHale, of West Cheshire Unison, said: “Whilst our preferred option was that this service should remain within the council, the CIC option was considered preferable to the original intention to put the provision out to private tender. The council continue to argue that savings on business rates for premises etc make this option beneficial.”
He added: “This is clearly being done in a rush to make savings from the start of the financial year.”
The sport and leisure CIC is a subsidiary of the council which will be run by a board of directors appointed from the public, private and voluntary sectors.
Jackie Bryson, chief executive of Sport Cheshire and a member of the interim board, said: “Following the transfer it will be business as usual, so customers should see no change to the delivery of services. The new company will be working on the development of its branding and a trading name.”