Whitworth Swimming Pool

Press release CLAW, RLT and The Whitaker – 25 February 2021

Released by Rossendale Leisure Trust, in partnership with CLAW and The Whitaker

On the evening of the 24th of February, Rossendale Borough Council unanimously voted in favour of a package of financial support for Rossendale’s local leisure and culture partners Rossendale Leisure Trust (RLT), the Community Association of Whitworth (CLAW), and The Whitaker, to mitigate the impact of closures through Covid-19.

Rossendale Leisure Trust welcome the Council’s continued support with regards to financial viability, which will enable the Trust and partners to rebuild their financial base and continue to support local people, community services and activities. Each organisation has developed sound business plans focused on recovery, and with the Council’s support, feel confident about the future outlook. The full report presented to Members of Rossendale Borough Council is available and details the financial support.

One of the decisions made by the Council was to support the continued closer partnership working of CLAW and RLT, and RLT and The Whitaker.

Rossendale Leisure Trust and Community Leisure Association of Whitworth

CLAW and the broader Whitworth community have developed and sustained a brilliant offer to local residents through the two facilities for nearly two decades. The decision taken by Rossendale Borough Council yesterday, progresses the discussions between CLAW, RLT and RBC to build upon those years of hard work and dedication with the sole focus being on protecting facilities for local people. The proposal will see the leases for Whitworth Leisure Centre and the Riverside transferred to RLT, with new governance structures and processes in place to ensure the Whitworth community has a clear voice and involvement in the future decisions regarding Whitworth facilities.

To ensure local involvement, the RLT Board will appoint two new Directors to the Board, who are skills-based and have a knowledge of and care for Whitworth. In addition, RLT will form a new Whitworth Committee as part of the formal governance structure, thereby ensuring transparency, and that the perspective of local people is central to decision making. Finally, following the decision by RBC, RLT with CLAW and Whitworth Town Council’s support, will be setting up public discussions with Whitworth to ensure that views as to service needs are heard in the coming weeks. Both the RLT Board and staff team are committed to continuing to work with CLAW and Whitworth Town Council to ensure that the legal transfers are completed effectively and with suitable protections and provisions built into the leases and agreements. Most importantly, the Trust will work to ensure that the services and facilities are reopened with the best possible chance of long term success.

Rossendale Leisure Trust and The Whitaker

A great deal of excitement surrounds The Whitaker and its reopening following significant grant investment from the National Heritage Lottery Fund, and subsequent Covid-19 recovery support from Arts Council England. Yesterday, Council voted unanimously to support the recommendation to progress the partnership between The Whitaker and RLT. The partnership will see The Whitaker form part of a group structure with RLT, like the one previously announced between Ski Rossendale and RLT. The focus of the partnership is to provide additional strategic and managerial capacity to support the operation of The Whitaker, and developed shared processes and efficiencies with an integrated hospitality offer. The merger creates the opportunity to integrate physical activity, mental health, arts and culture into a holistic wellbeing offer to local people.

It is welcome and positive news to hear the Government’s step approach to reopening services like museums, events spaces, swimming pools and gyms. CLAW and RLT are working through detailed reopening plans for their respective sites, and The Whitaker is planning its exciting and grand reopening in the summer. The staff teams at CLAW and RLT are excited to be open, delivering the services to communities, and welcoming people back with warm welcomes. All sites continue to ensure they are Covid-Secure, and offer safe opportunities for all of Rossendale to enjoy. We all look forward to welcoming communities back into sites and services, and supporting communities’ health and wellbeing in the future.