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External consultants brought in to resolve future of council’s leisure services

16 May 2024 3 minute read
Buckley Leisure Centre. Photo via Google

Liam Randall, local democracy reporter

External consultants have been called in by a local authority to help resolve uncertainty over the future its leisure services.

Flintshire Council is currently at loggerheads with Aura Leisure and Libraries Limited, which has managed most leisure centres in the county since 2017, as well as libraries, museums and play areas.

In March, it was reported that officials were considering withdrawing financial support when the local authority’s latest agreement with the employee-owned company was due to end on March 31.

While a short-term funding deal was later agreed, a leaked report revealed a significant deterioration in relations between the two parties.

It’s now been confirmed that the council has called in a specialist leisure consultancy firm to assist in deciding how services will be provided in the long-term.


The commissioning of FMG Consulting to create a report is detailed in the summary of a meeting of Flintshire’s backbench education, youth and culture scrutiny committee held last week.

While the meeting was held in private, a decision log on the authority’s website highlights the following outcomes:

“That representatives of FMG Consulting Ltd be invited to present their commissioned reports to all members.

“That the FMG Consulting Ltd commissioned reports, along with the agreement between the council and Aura which commenced on September 1st, 2017 be made available in a confidential setting, for all members to view.

“That following the viewing of the requested documents and presentation by FMG Consulting Ltd, that a special meeting of the education, youth and culture OSC be arranged.

“All members of the council (will be) invited to attend and contribute, in order for the opinion of the committee to be provided to cabinet when considering the future options for leisure, libraries and museum services.

“That further reports be brought back to the overview and scrutiny committee as work progressed and as required.”


A previous report presented to cabinet members in April outlined several options for the future running of services.

They included bringing them back in-house or finding an alternative delivery model.

Other possibilities could see the authority going out to tender to find a new service provider or coming to a fresh agreement with Aura.

The cost of bringing the consultants in is not included in the summary.

In a blurb on its website, the company states: “FMG Consulting is one of the leading specialist management consultancy companies in the UK.

“We provide clients with business and operational solutions in the sport and leisure sector, including strategy, delivery and organisational development.”


Other projects the firm has worked on include providing new facilities at the Concord Sports Centre in Sheffield.

It was also involved in supporting the development of a local authority controlled company to run leisure services and museums for Broxtowe Borough Council in Nottinghamshire.

The company added: “One of the things that sets FMG apart is the experience of our team.

“As experienced ex-CEOs and senior leisure professionals, we have transferred services from local authorities and developed them into thriving successful commercial organisations.

“We are therefore able to support other similar organisations and individuals through their journey.”

A report by the consultants on the options for leisure services in Flintshire will be brought to councillors at a later date.

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