Southwark Council to bring leisure services in-house

8 September 2021

Southwark Council announces plans to bring the management of its eight leisure centres in-house, when the current contract with leisure provider, Everyone Active, expires in June 2023*.

This approach will make Southwark the first London borough to bring it's leisure service back in-house.. This is the second major service to be brought in house by Southwark Council in recent years.

This exciting move is in line with Southwark’s preference for in-house services, which help the council to put residents at the heart of everything it does. Insourcing will also help the council to ensure that its leisure offer is focused on helping the council to reduce inequality and improve the health of residents.

Financial considerations have also come into play in the decision. Whilst Everyone Active has provided a good service for residents, the financial pressures faced by the leisure sector, both because of the increased competition from budget gyms, and the impact of COVID-19, have resulted in Southwark Council funding the borough’s leisure provision until the end of its contract with Everyone Active. This has prompted a significant rethink of how leisure services might best be provided in Southwark.

The council will work closely with Everyone Active, partners, stakeholders and suppliers, to ensure that customers experience a seamless transition. Southwark Council will also work to establish a smooth transfer of leisure staff, from Everyone Active to the council.

Southwark Council’s leisure offer is already ambitious, providing free swim and gym and adult swimming lessons, to everyone who lives in the borough. The council also has plans to open a new athletics centre in Southwark Park by the end of the year, a brand new leisure centre in Canada Water by 2025 and much more.

An in-house service will be better able to respond to council priorities. Taking back direct management of its leisure facilities will enable the council to build on the great improvements that Everyone Active has made around targeting hard to reach groups. Southwark Council aims to continue to tackle inequality and prioritise the health and wellbeing of residents, especially those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities.

After an initial period of stabilisation, post-transfer, the council will work to create an innovative new service that brings together internal and external partners, creating local jobs and providing excellent services for those residents who are most in need. Southwark Council aims to build an offer that is flexible and fit for the future.

Cllr Alice Macdonald, Cabinet Member for Equalities, Neighbourhoods and Leisure, said: “We are excited by the opportunities that our new, in-house leisure service will provide. This decision will enable us to continue supporting many more people to live healthier lives.

We will put residents and staff front and centre of the decisions we take so that we provide the  high quality facilities and services needed to make a real difference to people’s lives.

“I’d like to thank Everyone Active’s Southwark staff for their hard work and commitment throughout the pandemic. We hope that in 2023 many will choose to stay on with us. 

“We are committed to investing in sport and leisure and have many exciting plans in the pipeline. We are working hard to expand our offer of accessible, high quality facilities, for people across the borough. We believe that nature, arts and sports can all help to break down barriers that prevent people from thriving.”

*This decision is subject to Cabinet signoff (14/09/21) and a call-in period (five working days), as we are currently publishing our report, ahead of the decision

Page last updated: 08 September 2021