COUNCIL leisure centres in the New Forest could soon be privately-run in a bid to cut costs.

New Forest District Council says it has considered a range of options for the future of its centres, including setting up a local authority trading company, but has concluded that "finding a partner to deliver our leisure services" is the best solution.

Its goal is that the centres will be self-funding and not require council subsidy. The partner could be from the private sector or an existing leisure trust, which would manage the centres and employ their staff.

Councillor Steve Clarke, who chairs the leisure task and finish group, said: "We have looked carefully at what is possible, with an open mind.

"The group are satisfied with the work undertaken and are happy to make a recommendation that the preferred option is partnering.

"But we need to do some further work to establish whether there is market interest, and I would like to reiterate that at this stage no decisions have been made."

The market research is expected to be complete by November. If approved by the council's leisure review panel a procurement process would begin, expected to last some 12 months.