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Blake Morgan supports operational transfer of Reading leisure centres to social enterprise

By TBM Team
5 July 2021

Reading Borough Council has signed a partnership contract with the non-profit social enterprise organisation Greenwich Leisure (GLL), which will now take over the operation of Reading’s four leisure centres on the Council’s behalf. This is the latest stage in the project to overhaul and improve Reading’s leisure services – a £38.5 million programme which includes the construction of a new leisure centre at Rivermead, as well as two new swimming pools and other upgrades across the region’s leisure facilities.

Blake Morgan’s local authority team has provided transactional contract advice to Reading Borough Council throughout the process, and has been working with the council to deliver this leisure centre upgrade programme since 2019. This included advising councillors on the initial appointment of GLL in January 2020, supporting the Council’s £38.5m of capital investment, and now providing advice for this milestone contract signing.

From 1 July, GLL will operate Meadway Leisure Centre, South Reading Leisure Centre, Palmer Park Sports Stadium and Rivermead Leisure Centre (a complex which GLL already runs). As part of this change, the option will be introduced for membership and customer schemes to span access to all council facilities, bringing greater choice and flexibility to users. Construction of the new facilities at Rivermead and Palmer Park are due to begin this summer, aiming to complete by spring 2023.

The new Rivermead facilities will still include:

  • 25m 8 lane competition pool, with moveable pool floor
  • Splash pad for younger users
  • Diving pool with moveable pool floor
  • 25m 5 lane club/swim lesson pool (demountable pool)
  • A café, information hub and soft play

At Palmer Park, in addition to the refurbishment of the existing stadium building, there will be:

  • A modern new 25 metre, 6-lane community pool
  • A 100-station gym with three studios
  • An activity zone for children with party rooms,
  • And a new café and information hub

There will also be improvements at South Reading and Meadway leisure centres.

Partner and head of local government England at Blake Morgan, Penny Rinta-Suksi, commented: "The  council’s work to overhaul and improve its leisure service has been Herculean. This latest development helps to further secure the future of Reading’s fantastic leisure offering, and facilitates the delivery of superb new facilities and top-class management from GLL. It’s been rewarding to support this project local to our Reading office from the very start, and we are proud to see this positive step being taken to bring forward the council’s incredible vision for the future of leisure services in Reading."