1 April 2019 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
Active Life, the not-for-profit charitable trust that operates leisure centres on Canterbury City Council's behalf, has merged with the larger Fusion Lifestyle, which is also a registered charity.
The £11.5 million investment by the local authority means Active Life will become a subsidiary of Fusion but retain its identity and a local board to help it run Kingsmead Leisure Centre in Canterbury, Herons Leisure Centre and Bay Sports Arena in Herne Bay, and Whitstable Swimming Pool and Whitstable Sports Centre in the town.
The deal signals a new approach to the financial arrangements between the council and the operators. Instead of the council paying a subsidy each year to help to fund services, Active Life will be giving the council a set annual payment, which is important income at a time of tight budgets.
The merger is the final piece of the behind-the-scenes jigsaw, and means final preparations can now be made for the council's multimillion-pound investment in Kingsmead Leisure Centre, Herons Leisure Centre and Whitstable Swimming Pool.
Councillor Neil Baker, chairman of the council's community committee, said: "The demand for facilities that help people get fit and play sport is insatiable in a district like ours.
"With the number of people wanting to take part in classes and other activities outstripping supply, added to the fact some of our facilities have seen better days, the time is right to make this major investment.
"Residents gave us their views via a public consultation and now is the time to get into really detailed design of the facilities and services we are going to offer.
"Active Life's merger with Fusion Lifestyle combines local knowledge and passion with the expertise and experience of a larger operator which successfully manages a wide range of services across the country. Residents and the council will really reap the benefits from this partnership."