LEISURE services across the Bognor Regis area are on the up.
This was the bold claim made by John Stride, chief executive of Inspire Leisure which runs Felpham’s Arun Leisure Centre and other services across the Arun district.
Mr Stride told members of Arun District Council’s overview and select committee last Tuesday he was pleased with the progress being made.
“There have been a lot of improvements and investments this year. Not all of the investments you can see, but we are continually improving things for our members,” said Mr Stride.
Part of this investment for Felpham includes a new all-weather 3G astroturf pitch which is being built thanks to some £150,000 from Olympic legacy funding and a further £210,000 from the district council.
The improvement works will also include an upgrade of the pitch’s lighting and fencing.
Mr Stride told the councillors during his presentation of the company’s annual report that he was particularly proud of the work being done within the community.
Attendances at the Arun Leisure Centre in Felpham were up 6.5 per cent in 2012/13 to 701,492 compared to the previous year.
A sharp rise in public use, 13.2 per cent, easily offset a small drop of 1.6 per cent in school use.
Healthy walks, junior holidays, sports development and arts and heritage activities all showed large year-on-year increases in 2012/13. Mr Stride said: “We are not just a leisure provider, we run community events and we hope to become more involved in that.
“At present we run events in local schools and we have a member of staff who goes into local primary schools and teaches physical education to teachers.”
Mr Stride told members he was also keen for the leisure centre to become a place for families to attend together.
“What I would like to see is a situation where the mum maybe does an aerobics class, while the children are doing something else within the centre.
“We want it to become more of a family outing,” he said.
An improved relationship with the council was also praised.
Philippa Dart, Arun’s assistant director of financial services, said: “We have worked much more closely with Inspire to help them deliver some of their services.
“There is much more of a partnership and an improved relationship. A lot of progress has been made.”
The agreement between Inspire and the district council is due to expire in March 2016. The tender to run the council’s leisure services will go on to the open market for bidders in 2015.
Committee member Colin Oliver-Redgate asked if Inspire would be willing to look at providing more sporting activities and suggested a mobile ski-slope.
Mr Stride replied: “If that is something that is viable, it could maybe be something we could look at as part of the tender process in 2016.”