A NEW charity is being set up to manage and develop leisure services in Northumberland.
Blyth Valley Arts and Leisure (BVAL) and North Country Leisure (NCL), have been working in partnership for several years to improve services and are now developing their partnership more formally.
A new joint charity, ‘Active Northumberland’, is being set up between both organisations to manage and develop leisure services in the north, west and south east of the county on behalf of Northumberland County Council.
The new charity will run large and well-known leisure sites such as Concordia and the Sporting Club in Cramlington, Blyth Sports Centre, and others in the county, as well as some more specialist sites such as the beach huts at Blyth, and the Pegasus Riding Centre near Morpeth, all currently run by either NCL or BVAL.
Leisure facilities at several school sites in Blyth, Cramlington and Prudhoe are also managed for community use as well as sports development services across the county, encouraging communities to formulate activities and provide coaching in areas where access to services is more difficult.
The board will be led by the newly appointed chairman Roger Tames, best known as a sports presenter, commentator and former head of sport at Tyne Tees Television.
“I’m delighted to be involved in such an ambitious venture,” he said.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to spend my working life covering elite sport, but at a personal level I’ve always been very much a grass roots sportsman.
“I know many of Northumberland’s leisure facilities from personal experience.”
The new charitable company will be owned by the two existing charities, who will continue to deliver the services on the ground.
The organisations two chief executives, John Maude and Bruce Ledger, will continue in their respective roles with centres and services operating with the same staff, values and approach.
It is said the new joint venture will allow for savings through shared services and customers will benefit from combined memberships across all sites, facility improvements and new activity programmes.
From April 1, the name and branding for the new organisation will be phased in, along with the introduction of a new website and Active Northumberland leisure card, which can be used across all centres managed by the newly formed organisation.