After 46 years is Stratford Park still fit for purpose?

AS STRATFORD Park Leisure Centre approaches 50 years of age, Stroud District Council will be carrying out research into whether it is still fit for purpose and meets the needs of residents.

To allow time for this, the current operators of the leisure centre could be given a three year contract extension while the council work out the best options for the future.

It could also mean a pay rise for the lowest paid workers at the centre.

The centre was built in 1974 and a report to be considered by the Community Services and Licensing Committee says the council needs to invest in experts to establish whether the centre is still fit for purpose and meets the needs of residents.

The report says this offers the opportunity to look at the district’s leisure needs, the neighbouring Museum in the Park’s expansion ambitions, and the park’s other facilities.

On Thursday, January 23, committee members will be asked to approve a plan which includes getting expert advice on how built leisure facilities for the district should look in future, leading to a vision and plan for recreation, cultural, health and wellbeing uses in the district as a whole, with Stratford Park being a particular area of focus.

To allow time for this, the committee is also asked to approve an existing contract extension option to Sports and Leisure Management (SLM) to continue running Stratford Park Leisure Centre until October 31, 2024. That could also include raising pay for SLM employees to a minimum of £9.30 per hour, in line with the council’s pay policy which is to pay the ‘real living wage’ calculated by the Living Wage Foundation.

Committee chair Mattie Ross said: “Leisure tastes and demands have changed a lot since the centre was built in 1974 and we want to make sure we get provision right for residents in the coming years. It also offers us the opportunity to pay SLM employees the higher, real living wage.”

One of the council’s five key priorities in its Corporate Delivery Plan is ‘Health and Well Being: Promoting the health and well being of our communities and work with others to deliver the public health agenda’, and the plan includes agreeing a long term investment and management plan for Stratford Park with partners and contractors.

“Stratford Park Leisure Centre is a popular and well-used facility which has high customer satisfaction levels,” said SDC Leader Doina Cornell.

“However it is approaching 50 years of age, and leisure tastes and interests have changed in that time, so we want to make sure that our plans for the future reflect that as well as provision in the district as a whole.

“It means we can look at how the council provides al its leisure facilities, and the park’s wider offer. This also gives us the opportunity to activate a three year contract extension and bring pay rates for the lowest paid in line with those at the council.”

The full report can be viewed at

Members of the public are welcome to attend the meeting or view it online.

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