Croydon council has signed a 20-year contract with the UK’s leading leisure charitable social enterprise, GLL to manage the boroughs leisure facilities.

The new contract which includes major investment into buildings and outdoor sports facilities also guarantees to save the  council over £1m by 2021 and will focus heavily on getting more people to take advantage of what is on offer as part of a healthier lifestyle.

It will involve a full re-fit of the gym facilities at Thornton Heath, South Norwood, Purley and Waddon, and it will also see the introduction of new state-of-the-art gym and group exercise equipment and the development of outdoor tennis hubs and outdoor activity programmes. Both Grangewood Park and Trumble Gardens tennis courts have been earmarked  for improvements.

The present leisure centre provider Fusion has faced controversy over the management and facilities at Thornton Heath leisure centre.

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Under the new GLL contract which starts in spring all of the centres will meet and maintain the QUEST industry quality standard and a new membership programme will provide a variety of concessions and discounts.

Approximately 30 football pitches and tennis courts in the borough’s parks are also included in the contract, and the new operator will have responsibility for bookings as well as for increasing the numbers of people making use of these facilities.

Alongside these changes the council has also negotiated to ensure that GLL fully complies with the London Living Wage, as well as co-operating with Croydon Works to secure employment opportunities for local people.

Councillor Timothy Godfrey, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport

said: “The users of our leisure centres deserve the very best in terms of facilities and customer services, and I’m confident this new contract with GLL will deliver on both of these counts. We’re creating new employment opportunities for local people and at the same time saving taxpayers a great deal of money. By improving what’s on offer we will encourage many more people to use these facilities as part of a healthier lifestyle. Everyone is going to win from this move, and I’m looking forward to being able to formally welcome GLL on board in a couple of weeks’ time.”

Chris Symons, GLL’s Director of Development said: “I’m delighted GLL have been chosen as the preferred partner to deliver Croydon’s Leisure Service.

“We bring 25 years of experience and stability in the leisure industry with the remit to get more people more active more often.

“GLL will put affordability and accessibility at the heart of its offer to the people of Croydon.”

For legal reasons the decision will be formally confirmed on 29 November.