Northumberland leisure services to be united

Willowburn Sports and Leisure Centre celebrates its ten-year anniversary in 2013.
Willowburn Sports and Leisure Centre celebrates its ten-year anniversary in 2013.

The way leisure services are run in the county is changing, ensuring Northumberland is fit for the 21st century.

Next week, Northumberland County Council will formally bring three leisure services together under one operator based in the county, securing long-term contractual arrangements, employment and protecting the service for the future.

From Wednesday, October 1, Active Northumberland will be part of Northumberland County Council’s family of companies. This change will then trigger the transfer of the former North County Leisure Services and Tees Active sites into Active Northumberland along with Blyth Valley Arts and Leisure Services. This includes Willowburn Sports and Leisure Centre in Alnwick and Rothbury Pool and Gym.

For residents, an Active Northumberland Card will allow access to discounted activities in all Active Northumberland leisure facilities. A new county-wide on-line booking service has been introduced, which will allow card-holders to book activities 14 days in advance. Customers can exchange their existing leisure card for a new Active Northumberland Card at the reception of their local leisure centre after Wednesday.

Coun Grant Davey, leader of Northumberland County Council, said: “Combining our leisure services under one operator will further improve the service we offer to residents and bring benefits to the authority, ensuring leisure services have a long and positive future.”

The council will honour any current expiry dates on existing membership cards. Children who currently access discount prices via a parent’s card will be issued with their own Active Northumberland Card. All leisure services will be transferred into Active Northumberland apart from facilities in Morpeth and Ponteland, which should transfer at a later date.

Coun Susan Dungworth, chairman of Active Northumberland said: “This is great news, both for residents in the county and those employed in leisure services. There are benefits for health, community cohesion and social inclusion. This is the first time leisure has been specifically referenced as part of our corporate priorities.”

An Active Northumberland card will cost £12 for annual membership and can be obtained through leisure centre receptions.