Healthy future ahead for Barrow leisure services

THE operation of Barrow’s leisure centre is to be transferred to Barrow Borough Council's new arms length company which will be a not-for-profit enterprise.


Barrow’s leisure centre has been run by Life Leisure since 2018. However, though Life Leisure’s centres and activities resumed operation in line with the easing of Covid restrictions, it had faced an uncertain future as a result of the pandemic.


Now, Barrow Borough Council is to create a Local Authority Trading Company; Barrow Forward Limited, which will assume responsibility for the operation of Barrow Park Leisure Centre to ensure its health, fitness and neighbourhood activity services continue to go from strength to strength.


Whilst the day to day management will become the responsibility of Barrow Forward, the overall performance of the centre will still be overseen by the Council as the sole shareholder.


Any surpluses generated from the centre will be invested back into leisure, health and wellbeing services for the community. All existing leisure centre staff will be transferred under TUPE regulations to the new company with services unchanged for members of the public.


Councillor Ann Thomson, the leader of Barrow Borough Council, said: “The health and wellbeing of our residents has never been so important, particularly after the pandemic.


“Changes within Life Leisure mean we need to take responsibility for the operation of our fantastic leisure centre which offers superb facilities for people of all ages.


“Setting up a new Local Authority Trading Company means we can continue the services available throughout a seamless transition period. Any surpluses generated by Barrow Forward in the future would go straight back into leisure services that will benefit our communities directly.


“I’m very proud of the hard work that has taken place behind the scenes to make this happen in a short period of time and look forward to an exciting future for Barrow Park Leisure Centre, guided by its team of dedicated and talented staff.”


It is hoped the transfer of Barrow Park Leisure Centre to Barrow Forward will be complete this summer. All activities and programmes will continue to be offered


Residents and users of the centre should notice no difference in the day to day operation of services.


Councillor Thomson added: “Though the journey we are undertaking here was initiated by changes within Life Leisure itself following the global coronavirus pandemic, now is absolutely the right time to bring Barrow Park Leisure Centre under the council’s control via a Local Authority Trading Company.


“It aligns very well with our priorities as a council which is to promote the health and wellbeing of our communities.


“Anyone visiting or using the leisure centre shouldn’t notice any difference throughout this period. Please continue to support the centre and if you don’t attend regularly already, have a look at the excellent range of activities on offer.”