A Council has voted to move the management of 12 leisure centres out of the day-to-day control of the authority itself.

Gwynedd County Council voted to make the change on Thursday with Penllyn Leisure Centre, in Bala, one of the centres affected.

The decision means a private company run by the council will be formed and tasked with running the leisure centres on behalf of the council. It’s hoped the change will save the council over £500,000 a year once initial start-up costs have been covered.

Bala county councillor Dilwyn Morgan said: “It’s great news, it was discussed in full council and it was passed through no problem

“It wasn’t unanimous, but it was more or less as most councillors see this as the way forward

“It’s a way of making the service cheaper without having any effect for the public, which is a lot better than passing it into the private sector. It also ensures the jobs of the staff, which was quite important, and of course the Welsh language.

“We’ve done a lot of background work and had expert advice on the way forward on the legal aspects and the user aspects, so everyone’s very positive about it in the council - hopefully nobody will know the difference. We don’t know what cuts are looming, but this is one way of dealing with them.”

Following the members’ decision at the full council, work will now continue to establish a company controlled by the authority that will be responsible for the county’s leisure centres. It is expected that the company will be operational from early in 2019.

Cllr Craig ab Iago, Gwynedd Council cabinet member who leads on leisure, said: “The decision of the full council allows us to ensure that the level of leisure service provided to the residents of Gwynedd remains unchanged, whilst also delivering financial savings. The fact is that the huge financial pressures forced upon public services by the Westminster Government has meant that a number of councils across the country have either closed leisure centres or completely outsourced to commercial operators over recent years.

“However, here in Gwynedd, we have been determined to do all we can to protect the county’s centres. Whilst the government cuts mean that we have no option but to deliver savings, the model approved by the full council allows us to tackle the financial pressures as well as continuing to maintain the current network of 12 leisure centres.

“The new model will mean that the experience for users will not change.”