A MEETING is being held to discuss the handover of leisure facilities in Verwood to the district council.

An extraordinary general meeting is being held on June 30 at The Hub to discuss the transfer of future management responsibilities for leisure facilities from the non-profit-making charity Verwood Arts and Leisure Amenities (VALA) to East Dorset District Council.

The council has been paying VALA to look after facilities in the town for several years, but is reviewing this practice, to save money and to “secure the future” of the facilities.

Users of the facilities are hoping for more equipment and longer opening hours if the handover goes ahead.

But a council spokesman said there would be no immediate changes, adding: “The idea is for it to be a seamless transfer so users won’t notice any difference in the facilities being offered, though if there’s a good case for being more flexible in opening or introducing new activities and /or equipment we would consider it in due course.”

The council has been in talks with trustees of VALA for the last few months. The meeting will formally ask members of VALA to agree to the surrender of all the assets and liabilities of VALA to East Dorset District Council with effect from July 1.

Christchurch and East Dorset Councils have been carrying out a review of all their leisure services with a view to bringing together the management of facilities at Queen Elizabeth Leisure Centre in Wimborne and Two Riversmeet Leisure Centre in Christchurch under a single management structure and with a common standard of service and single brand.

In February, East Dorset’s resources committee agreed it would be sensible for sports and leisure facilities at Verwood Hub and the Community Sports Hall to also become part of that review.

Judith Plumley, head of community and leisure at East Dorset District Council, said: “We believe it makes sense, both practically and economically, for this to happen.

“The health and well-being of our residents is high on the council’s agenda and by bringing these facilities in-house, rather than having the uncertainty of an annual grant to VALA, the council will secure the future for them.”

Mike Fry, chairman of VALA, said: “If the transfer is approved, then both the VALA trustees and the council will ensure that the transition during the handover will be seamless for the users of Verwood Hub and Verwood Community Sports Hall.

“The current VALA staff will transfer to be employed by the council under their existing terms and conditions.”