Wealden District Council is removing itself from any role in the running of Uckfield Leisure Centre.
It is giving formal notice to transfer the site back to the owner, East Sussex County Council, when the current lease expires at the end of March 2022.
The county council is reviewing future options for the centre and current operator, Freedom Leisure, is keen to be part of any discussions.
Wealden District Council’s Cabinet made the decision to end the authority’s involvement with Uckfield Leisure Centre, and the one at Heathfield, to remove what it sees as an “unnecessary layer of management” from the running of the facilities.
At both Uckfield and Heathfield, the sites are an integral part of the larger school campus with Freedom Leisure providing and running services under contract from Wealden.
From the end of March 2022, any leisure provider at the sites will need an agreement with the county council.
A spokesperson for Wealden council said that from then on any arrangements at Uckfield Leisure Centre would be a matter for the county council, Uckfield College and any third-party provider engaged to run the centre.
Councillor Philip Lunn, Wealden Cabinet member for Community and Public Health, said: “We wanted to make this decision as soon as possible to provide certainty for both the colleges and East Sussex County Council.
“It will help them plan for the future and ensure a smooth transition of services.”
An East Sussex County Council spokesperson said: “The county council has held discussions with Wealden District Council regarding the Uckfield and Heathfield leisure centre lease agreements which expire in 2022, and we have received confirmation from Wealden that the agreements will not be extended.
“We can confirm that the county council agreements detailed in the Wealden decision relate only to the Heathfield and Uckfield leisure centres.
“We are currently reviewing all the future options for the use of the centres including communicating with the respective stakeholders.”
A spokesperson for Freedom Leisure told this website: “Freedom Leisure are very proud to have managed the community use of Uckfield Leisure Centre as a charitable leisure trust in contract with Wealden District Council since 2002.
Committed to Uckfield
“We remain committed to the facility and the community of Uckfield and are keen to explore opportunities to carry on managing public use of the facility after Wealden cease to be involved in 2022.”
- Wealden District Council owns the leisure centre buildings at Crowborough and Hailsham and has announced what it calls “exciting plans” to improve facilities at both centres. This will include a new training pool extension at Crowborough and new town leisure centre at Hailsham as part of the Hailsham Aspires project [external link].
- Freedom Leisure was spun off from Wealden’s in-house leisure department. More information on the Freedom Leisure website [external link]