General leisure access to cease at Catmose Sports Centre

General access to leisure facilities at Catmose Sports Centre will stop at the end of March 2023.

Fitness equipment in the Catmose Sports Centre gym
Fitness equipment in the Catmose Sports Centre gym

General access to leisure facilities at Catmose Sports Centre in Oakham will cease at the end of March 2023.

Catmose Sports currently has around 900 members, as well as serving casual users and members of local sports clubs. Rutland County Council’s contract with Stevenage Leisure Ltd (SLL) to operate the facility ends on 31 March 2023. Following Cabinet approval in April 2022, the Council has been working hard to find an operator to continue to provide public leisure access at the site.

A key requirement is that any future contract must run the centre at zero net cost to both Rutland County Council and Catmose College. The Council’s existing contract with SLL was designed to be nil cost, except for major repairs. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing energy crisis have forced the Council to provide Catmose Sports Centre with significant unexpected financial support over the past three years. The Council cannot afford to provide this kind of financial assistance indefinitely, with research by the Local Government Association showing that costs for operating leisure centres are set to increase by 240% this year.

The stipulation that any future operator must run Catmose Sports Centre at zero net cost was supported by the Council’s Scrutiny Committee at the start of the procurement process. After completing its procurement exercise, the Council has received no bids from prospective operators meeting this requirement. As a result, general access to facilities including the Catmose Sports gym, fitness suites and sports hall will end on 31 March 2023.

“The search for an operator to run Catmose Sports Centre has been extremely difficult. Although we’ve had a successful contract in place with our current provider for many years, the leisure sector is facing untold pressure because of the impact of COVID and the rising cost of energy, which is pushing utility bills through the roof. In this context, it's believed that up to 40% of Council areas are now at risk of losing leisure centres or needing to reduce their leisure services. Rutland County Council is facing the same kind of pressure and our financial position is extremely challenging, as we work to close a sizeable funding gap caused by 10% inflation and increased demand for services. This is not a decision we wanted to make and we understand the impact it will have on people who currently use the centre. Sadly, in the absence of a commercial operator who can run a viable leisure service, the Council is left with very little choice.”

Councillor Marc Oxley, Cabinet Member for Communities

Rutland County Council will continue working with Stevenage Leisure Ltd as the operator notifies existing members and users of Catmose Sports Centre. The Council is taking steps to make sure that individuals who access the centre as part of a GP exercise referral scheme can have their needs met via an alternative local provision.

The Council is also working with partners to explore how access to leisure can be sustained in the current financial climate.

We have published a full set of FAQs with further information about this decision and what it means for people currently using Catmose Sports Centre.

Catmose sports centre news - link - FAQs

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