LEISURE centres in Knutsford and Holmes Chapel have been placed in a charitable trust by the borough council.
This week Cheshire East Council told the Guardian it had taken another ‘major step’ towards its ambition of becoming a strategic commissioning council with the launch of the latest arm’s length company running a key council service.
Cheshire East’s leisure service has been relaunched as an independent charitable trust called Everybody Sport and Recreation Ltd.
This is now responsible for running Cheshire East’s 15 leisure centres and swimming pools across the borough as well as leisure development and partnership services.
But opponents to the council’s new way of working have asked how they can be independent if serving councillors are on the new bodies ruling boards.
Last month the council launched two other arms-length companies; waste and streetscene services are now run by Ansa, while bereavement services are being managed by Orbitas.
Both are wholly-owned by Cheshire East but are run on a day-to-day basis by their own boards and managements.
Council leader Michael Jones said: “I’m delighted to see the leisure trust up and running.
“This launch is an exciting day for Cheshire East and another example of our moves to become a commissioning Council, with an innovative approach to providing better value for money for local people – putting residents first.
“We’re taking the financial challenge head-on. We’re working with staff, trade unions and our communities to provide a new way of running a council, unleashing innovation and entrepreneurialism, managing costs and improving our offer to customers.
“As part of the council’s commitment to healthier living for residents we are also investing in the innovative creation of a new lifestyle centre in Crewe, which has just been granted planning permission.
“In future, no two councils will look exactly the same and seeking out new, innovative ways of providing services is now an essential feature of local government. Councils need to innovate rather than complain about budgets going down.
“This is certainly our view as we continue to deliver our Cheshire East revolution – which is about putting residents’ first.”
Dane Valley member Clr Andrew Kolker, who has been named chair of the Everybody Sport and Recreation chairman, said: “I am delighted to be working alongside such an experienced and dedicated board of directors.
“We’re looking forward to creating many opportunities to improve the health and wellbeing of all Cheshire East residents and to do so with more efficient and exciting ways of working with the leisure services team.
“This new trust model means profits will be reinvested directly in to the provision of leisure services for Cheshire East residents.”