28/11/2017 Joint statement from Finesse Leisure Partnership, Greenwich Leisure Limited and Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council

Finesse Leisure Partnership is currently in talks with Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL) about future joint working. There is the potential for Finesse to merge with GLL and discussions are in progress to consider the added value this may bring to the local community, enabling the strengths of both organisations to be used most effectively.

Although no final decisions have been made, the potential merger could see GLL run all seven council-owned sites as early as April 2018, including Hatfield Leisure and Swim Centres, Stanborough Park and Moneyhole Lane playing fields.

GLL is the UK's largest leisure social enterprise, operating 275 leisure and cultural facilities nationwide under its 'Better' brand - including the Gosling Sports Park in Welwyn Garden City. Their size could enable them to continue delivering the varied, high-quality facilities valued by residents at a considerable reduction in cost to the council.  

GLL invests all surpluses into local facilities, its staff, grassroots and community sports - in addition to supporting neighbourhood projects via its Community Fund and elite athletes via its Sports Foundation.

The merger would also retain Finesse's local expertise and create a community fund from their reserves to support projects and initiatives in the borough.

Councillor Tony Kingsbury, Executive Member for Policy and Culture at the borough council, said: "We believe a potential merger could bring together the many strengths of GLL and Finesse in a way that will benefit all our communities. Open spaces, activity and exercise are so important to our wellbeing and residents would be able to continue enjoying the same high-quality, affordable facilities locally and have access to hundreds of GLL sites up and down the country."

Chairman of Finesse Leisure, Robin Loader, said: "We were keen to explore a merger, not simply due to GLL's strength in the sector, but because of the values we both share. We all believe in working to improve health and wellbeing at a local level and supporting the development of better communities and services."

GLL MD Mark Sesnan, said: "We are looking forward to working with the council and Finesse to broaden the benefits of our Better brand to the residents of Hertfordshire, getting more people, more active, more often.

 "As a social enterprise we exist to support local communities with an affordable and accessible leisure programme. As part of our ethos we promote these values with those we work with.

"We have 25 years experience of running successful leisure services in partnership with our clients and are confident we can further improve the customer experience."

Discussions between the Finesse and GLL boards are ongoing, with further decisions expected in the next few weeks. Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council's Cabinet will be asked to approve the potential transfer of Finesse Leisure's management agreement to GLL at a Cabinet meeting on 5 December. The report is available on the council's website.

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