THE SINN Féin leader on Belfast City Council says his party is insisting the not-for-profit operator that will run the city’s leisure centres from January 1 guarantees to maintain and improve current service provision.

London-based Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) will take over the facilities this week, with 60 of the existing leisure centre staff taking voluntary redundancy. 250 staff will transfer to the new operator.

Belfast City Council will retain ownership of the buildings and will have a say in admission prices and opening hours in partnership with GLL through a new trust, Active Belfast Leisure Ltd.

Councillor Jim McVeigh explained that while his was the only party to object to GLL, “We have insisted that they guarantee to maintain and improve current service provision to members and users.”

He added: “There will be a major build programme, first class new facilities, not just renovations. We had reservations about this model but we are working with GLL and our staff to ensure better, improved facilities and services in the centres.”