A COMMUNITY in North Cornwall has been issued with a challenge for the new year – use your leisure centre or lose it.
The operation of Camelford Leisure Centre was formally transferred from Cornwall Council to Camelford Leisure Centre Ltd on Thursday.
At a ceremony on Thursday the chairman of the steering group which put in two years' hard work to make it possible said the community had to use it to make it viable in the long term.
Rob Rotchell, Mayor of Camelford and who led the bid, said: "People have to use it. We have the money to run it, so we need more people to come along and use the facilities. If we had 200 families who signed up as family members that would be enough to ensure it is a success."
The centre, which has a swimming pool and gymnasium and with plans for a café, is now run by an industrial and provident society which has three directors: Rob Rotchell, vet Jonathan Holt and Judy Gidzewicz, who is the head teacher of both Tintagel and Delabole primary schools.
They have appointed Wayne Jordan-Shilling, 32, who was duty manager and sports coach at the centre under Carrick Leisure, as managing director of the new venture.
A former pupil at Sir James Smith's School, he started working at the centre as an apprentice 15 years ago. There will be three or four full-time employees, with more working part-time.
Jonathan Holt, who has been looking at the financial side of running the centre, said it would cost around £180,000 a year to run – £100,000 on the fabric and heating and £80,000 on staff. He said they were looking to recruit more part-time leisure assistants, swimming teachers and sports coaches.
Income will come from customers, of which there were 40,000 a year under the former management; £70,000 over the next two years from Cornwall Council's tourism, culture and leisure budget; and £30,000 over the next two years from children's services.
The pool is now closed for maintenance works and to allow small structural changes but the sports hall will remain open. The centre is to relaunch on January 3.
Cornwall councillor Neil Burden said: "This outcome has turned into a real success story and highlights how local communities and Cornwall Council can work together to secure local services in a challenging financial environment."
Councillors Keith Goodenough, Glenton Brown and John Lugg said they are pleased with the progress made in helping to keep the centre open. "The community has pulled together to keep the leisure centre open and we would like to recognise the considerable efforts of those who have made it a reality.
Dave Ferrett, chairman of the Friends of the Leisure Centre, said: "It's been a long and arduous journey to secure the centre and we must now concentrate on its future."