A LEISURE centre will cease operating as a public facility from the end of March. 

Dorset Council has cut funding and withdrawn from running QE Leisure Centre (QELC) in Blandford Road, Wimborne.

Despite a dual-use agreement between Dorset Council and Queen Elizabeth’s School (part of Initio Learning Trust) running for another 60 years, the local authority said it could no longer afford to fund the loss-making centre.

Dorset Council, which subsidises the leisure centre by around £500,000 each year, said it "could not justify the continued public-funding of the centre". 

Liz West, chief executive officer of Initio Learning Trust, said: “We are disappointed that Dorset Council has cut funding and will no longer run QELC.

“We have explored every possible way of maintaining the leisure centre, including through partnerships with private operators, but without significant capital investment it simply is not viable.

“Dorset Council were asked to provide funding to support this development, but unfortunately they were unable to do so.”

The school will take over the management of the building.

Students will be able to use the facilities including the gym, sports hall, dance studio, hard court, athletics area, and newly re-laid, and refurbished astro-turf pitch.

The swimming pool will be available following the completion of planned works.

New arrangements are being developed by the school to provide opportunities for clubs and community groups to hire the facilities.

Ms West added: “The building itself needs improvement and we are still in negotiations with Dorset Council to secure their contribution for the works.

“They have committed to handing back the QELC building in good condition and have set aside a £730k budget. We very much hope and expect that this funding will be provided in full.”

Dorset Council said following the decision by elected members back in early 2022, trustees were given two years’ notice by the authority confirming it would withdraw from the current management arrangements at the end of March 2024. 

It added: "This decision was made as the council subsidises QELC by around £500,000 each year, which is around a third of their overall leisure centres budget.

"In an area where seven public leisure facilities are within a 20 min drive of QELC - three of which are owned by Dorset Council – it was considered that the council could not justify the continued public-funding of the centre."