Redlands Update: Dorset Council has plan to keep buildings open

Dorset Council is delighted to share that we have a workable plan to keep Redlands Community Sports Hub in Weymouth open – which includes all the buildings.

Cllr Laura Miller, Dorset Council’s Portfolio Holder for Customer and Community Services, said:

“The easiest option would have been for Dorset Council to allow the buildings at Redlands to be closed – but we really didn’t want to do that. It was vital that we listened to the local community to look at all the opportunities for keeping the sports halls available to clubs and user groups, and we heard their voices loud and clear: Redlands is home to so many clubs and organisations and they wanted to keep their base.

We want to inspire a brand new way of running the buildings by drawing upon Redlands‘ most important resource – its user groups, clubs and the local community. This proposal for Redlands is dependent on everyone coming together and actively playing their part.

Our plan is to harness the energy of these brilliant, energetic people and effectively hand the operation of the buildings over to them. Partner organisations will also need to step up and lend a hand, but given the enthusiasm that we’ve seen I have no doubt they’ll rise to the challenge and I’m confident of their support.

I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to these discussions so far, and we’ll continue to keep everyone up to date with our progress.”

New approach

The plan is to move to a ‘trusted keyholder’ model. This means that the clubs that use the indoor facilities at Redlands would assume most of the responsibilities for delivering their activities, such as opening and closing the buildings when needed, taking on new members and organising bookings.

Active Dorset, a local charity, will take over the lease. Weymouth College will contribute to required repairs (as per their current lease) and Dorset Council will both invest and offer support. This community-led approach puts the facilities in the hands of those who use them the most, and the three organisations will work alongside the Redlands community to make sure there is a smooth transition.

Martin Kimberley, Chief Executive of Active Dorset, commented: Active Dorset Charity Trustees are delighted to support all the users, both current and future, and key partner organisations as Redlands enters a new phase of operation. It will take everyone involved to play their full part in the push to embed Redlands as a vibrant and sustainable community hub which delivers high quality sport and informal activity for local residents.

It has always been recognised how important both the indoor and outdoor facilities at Redlands are to local residents and it is fantastic that Dorset Council have been such excellent partners, in conjunction with Weymouth College and other stakeholders, by proactively seeking a way forward that offers the chance to retain and, in the future, enhance those facilities.

We are excited to be able to work with the local clubs and their national governing bodies to grow their offers and show that the site can be sustainable.  Redlands is an important piece of the local jigsaw that enables residents to live active and healthy lives, and we will do all we can to ensure it is able to thrive and play its part for the long term.”

Rob Cole, Vice Principal (Finance & HR) at Weymouth College, added: We are pleased with the Active Dorset proposal and continuation of bookings for this Autumn. The Redlands team and Weymouth College will continue to support Active Dorset and Dorset Council as part of this transition, with booking enquiries expected from the start of next month.”

Next steps

If the proposals are supported by partners and stakeholders, the decision on the future of the Redlands buildings will go to Dorset Council’s Cabinet later this year. While this may happen after July (Weymouth College’s desired date to surrender their lease), we don’t foresee any temporary closure of the indoor services while the paperwork is being worked out; the buildings will operate as they do currently until the new arrangements are formally in place.

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