The operator of the council’s sport and leisure services in Welwyn Hatfield has changed following a merger between Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) and Finesse Leisure that will enable the strengths of both organisations to be used most effectively.

GLL will manage the Hatfield Leisure and Swim Centres, Stanborough Park, Panshanger Golf Centre, and Moneyhole Lane, Digswell and King George V playing fields.

GLL is the largest provider of such services within the social enterprise sector, operating 275 sport, leisure and cultural facilities nationwide, including the Gosling Sports Park in WGC under their ‘Better’ brand. Their not-for-profit business model and extensive experience will enable them to deliver the varied, high-quality facilities valued by residents at a considerable reduction in cost to the council. 

The merger is expected to save around £7.2m over ten years by steadily reducing the management fee. Like Finesse, GLL invests all surpluses into local facilities, its staff, grassroots and community sports.

The merger retains Finesse’s local expertise and will also see the creation of a Community Fund to support local organisations in developing a more active and healthier borough. Finesse has around 140 staff, who will be transferred across to GLL.

Councillor Tony Kingsbury, Executive Member for Policy and Culture, said: “Our top priority is to make our high quality facilities as accessible as possible; this merger will continue to improve sport and leisure provision locally and deliver value for money for Welwyn Hatfield taxpayers. We look forward to working in partnership with GLL in the months and years ahead.”

Chairman of Finesse Leisure, Robin Loader, said: “We were keen to explore the 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. We are particularly excited about the Community Fund and the difference it will make to local organisations that work hard to engage a variety of residents to participate in physical activity.’

GLL Managing Director 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 Welwyn Hatfield, 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.”

Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council’s Cabinet approved the potential transfer of Finesse Leisure’s management agreement to GLL at a Cabinet meeting on 5 December.