A NEW company has been chosen to take the helm of Southsea’s troubled Pyramids Centre.
It comes after years of uncertainty at the leisure complex under its former operators Southsea Community Leisure Limited.
The non-profit organisation needed £800,000 from Portsmouth City Council per year to keep things going since taking charge in 2011.
Though a subsidy will still be given to the new operators – which can’t be named for commercial reasons until contracts are signed – it will only need half that amount.
The firm will manage The Pyramids on behalf of the council for the next five years, and it plans to invest £80,000 into it immediately. In total, £50,000 will be spent on a new exercise fitness suite that be can be used by anyone.
The rest of the cash will be used to replace health and fitness equipment and develop a new studio offering fitness classes such as spinning, pilates and yoga. It also wants to introduce a family roller-skating rink and new features for the main pool. Catering facilities will be refurbished.
The company was picked over six other bidders by the council’s cabinet at a meeting today.
Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: ‘It was an obvious choice. The company that we decided to go was the best option in terms of quality.
‘It was better in terms of its plans for the facility, what it could provide and because it could move in quickly.
‘The company is financially stable and sound.
‘This will result in £400,000 of savings being made each year.’
It would have cost £425,700 to pull down The Pyramids and an extra £10,000 a month would have been spent on security and £20,000 a year used for site maintenance.
Though that was identified as the cheapest option, Cllr Vernon-Jackson said local jobs would have been affected in the long run.
‘It would have meant 140 jobs going in the city, and as eight per cent of all the jobs here are dependant on the visitor economy, it would have an effect on other jobs,’ Cllr Vernon-Jackson said.
Conservative group leader Cllr Donna Jones said the deal should have been wrapped up a long time ago.
‘I understand why the council has taken the decision,’ she said. My criticism of this is the recalling of the contract should have been done a long time ago; so a company without any proper governance was not running The Pyramids.’
The new company is due to take over in the autumn.
Labour says ‘opportunity over Pyramids was missed’
THE leader of Portsmouth’s Labour group has spoken of his disappointment over the council’s decision to keep The Pyramids going.
Councillor John Ferrett said: ‘It’s a missed opportunity to actually withdraw the subsidy and save the taxpayers some money and redevelop the site.
‘It’s unfortunate the council has taken that decision. The contract is only to run the facility and doesn’t cover the cost of any repairs. There is the potential for some huge costs if anything goes wrong.’