Greenwich Leisure Limited is a non profit distributing co-operative that runs over sixty leisure and fitness centres in eleven London boroughs, Reading and Epsom and Ewell, started in the Royal Borough of Greenwich.
The trust also runs and manages Crystal Palace National Sports Centre.
On 9 January 2012 it was announced that GLL would be managing the Aquatics Centre and Multi-Use Arena of the London 2012 Olympic Games from 2013 for 10 years.
Greenwich Leisure is a staff-led 'Leisure Trust', structured as an Industrial and Provident Society for the benefit of the community. 
The members of the co-operative and therefore owners of the company are the workers of Greenwich Leisure. Alongside democratically elected members of staff, the trust's board includes representation of other stakeholders, including the local communities, borough councils and trade unions.
In January 2011 Nexus Community and GLL merged in a deal that will see the new group operate more than 100 leisure centres across South East England.
GLL and Nexus have worked in partnership since 1996, most recently in the South Oxfordshire area where GLL has subcontracted the management of seven South Oxfordshire District Council leisure facilities to Nexus.

This article appears to be written like an advertisement. Please help improve it by rewriting promotional content from a neutral point of view and removing any inappropriate external links. (May 2012)
The topic of this article may not meet Wikipedia's notability guidelines for companies and organizations. Please help to establish notability by adding reliable, secondary sources about the topic. If notability cannot be established, the article is likely to be merged, redirected, or deleted. (May 2012) (this warning refers to the section above - obviously 'slipped in' by GLL publicity department)

Recently Albion London has been appointed to handle the advertising and rebranding of GLL, which operates more than 100 public leisure centres, after a four-way pitch.
Albion will now be responsible for creating a new brand positioning for GLL.
Focus will also be put on GLL's association with the 2012 Olympic Games …

GLL has been re-branded as 'BETTER' - although it's advertising, using this adverb, almost certainly amounts to a breach of the 'Trades Description Act' - hence our suggested revised logos (see above).

Accurately based on the real GLL Better Logo - these graphics are so naïve that they look as if they were designed using Windows 'Paintbrush' rather than a professional graphics program !
Not really a good advert for a supposed leader in leisure and fitness.
The brand name BETTER is also a 'shot in the foot', as Google searches for 'better' will bring up all kinds of unrelated websites and information, whereas 'GLL' or 'Greenwich Leisure Limited' would focus directly on the intended targets.

What a 'Leisure Trust' Means in Practice:

• Leisure services are outsourced to a separate organisation/company.
The Council retains ownership of the facilities, which are leased to the Trust.
• Virtually all the savings come from rate reductions and VAT savings, which are much smaller initially because of the high set up costs.
• Direct democratic control of the service will cease - elected member representation on a trust is limited to less than 20% of the board. Company law requires that Board members must put the interests of the leisure trust before those of the local authority.
• After a year the Trust will usually cease to use council services and will be responsible its own procurement and contracting or corporate and other services.

The Case Against Transfer

Performance of Leisure Trusts

Leisure trusts do not have a very good performance record.

An Audit Commission analysis of 84 inspection reports on local authority sports and leisure services shows that 6% of directly delivered local authority services were excellent compared to 0% of trusts; the comparable figures for good services were 37% compared to 30% of trusts; 60% of trusts were judged to be ‘fair’ compared with 52% of directly provided services; and 0% of the latter were considered poor compared to 10% of trusts.
On the basis of this evidence, Leisure Trusts are not performing as well as local authority in-house services.
The Audit Commission carried out ten Best Value inspections of local authority leisure services where the Trust was established and operational at the time of inspection. 64% of the Trusts received only a fair one star service and one was rated poor, which has since been returned in-house, and the trust disbanded.
Thus 73% of the Trusts had a poor or fair rating, which suggests that there is a large credibility gap between the promotional rhetoric surrounding trusts and operational reality.

Leisure trusts are arms length companies, which are being rebranded as so-called ‘social enterprises’.
As stand-alone organisations, Leisure Trusts are forced to expand and ‘grow the business’ which means winning additional contracts from other local authorities and/or bidding to takeover more council services. 50% of Leisure Trusts have two or more contracts.
Greenwich Leisure has far more than most.
This process leads to the erosion of ‘local’ or ‘community’ provision, as trusts become contractors and have little choice but to become commercial operations, prioritising business values, cost reduction and income generation, thus eroding public service principles and values.
Community ownership is viewed by many as a potential poisoned chalice – more a means of implementing budget cuts by replacing staff with volunteers and hiving off maintenance to local/cheaper alternatives.

Service Integration

Whilst a single purpose organisation has some advantages, there is increasing emphasis on operating integrated and joined-up services.
Leisure is not a stand-alone service but is an essential part of healthy living, children’s services, regeneration, environmental services and parks and countryside provision. Improvements in community well being, the local economy and social justice can only be a reality if the organisational silos, divisions and cultures are removed from within both within local authorities and between other public bodies.
Transferring services to more arms length companies will make the horizontal and vertical integration of services more difficult and lengthy.
It also makes co-location of leisure with schools and libraries more difficult.
For example, the exclusion of education based sport and leisure facilities from the scope of trust contracts has led to fragmented service delivery and a loss of community benefit.
Similarly, neighbourhood management should be focusing on identifying needs, service delivery and community participation rather than using resources on coordinating a plethora of different organisations and contractors with different remits and responsibilities.
The effect on jobs Greenwich Leisure was one of the first leisure trusts to be established in the early 1990s and is widely quoted as being a very successful “innovative staff-led leisure trust.”, however, UNISON branches in London have reported that many of its employment practices and attitudes to trade unions mirror those of private sector mainstream leisure contractors.
The level of trade union organisation in leisure services in local authorities where Greenwich Leisure has contracts is very low.
One contract reported that only 20% of staff who transferred to Greenwich Leisure are still employed by them.
“Being taken over by GLL is just as bad as any private company. They like to portray themselves as being different as they are a “not for profit” organisation but their management style is the same as any hostile, private sector employer.”
“Greenwich Leisure effectively, does not recognise trade unions.
They don’t negotiate about anything…….This is a company which has no respect for TUPE.” (UNISON, London Borough of Newham).
Other leisure trusts have adopted the same approach to creating a casualised workforce, reducing terms and conditions and paying lip service to trade union organisation and facility time.
Private contractors in the leisure sector have a long record of low wages, high use of casual labour and multi-tiered workforces with minimal rights to pensions.
Trusts competing for contracts against these firms inevitably adopt the same policies and practices.
The fact that leisure trusts and private contractors had virtually the same cost per head of population between 2001/02 and 2004/05 and lower than the in-house cost, is indicative of their employment policies given that labour costs account for a high percentage of total costs (Audit Commission, 2006).
Transfer of services out of the local authority inevitably results in a loss of jobs and/or higher unit costs within the Council.
The quality of employment in trusts has a knock-on effect in the local economy.
'The Best Value Code of Practice on Workforce Matters' is supposed to protect the terms and conditions of staff working for contractors on public service contracts, including new starters, and to provide a negotiating framework for branches facing outsourcing, however, there is no evidence that the government, local authorities, private contractors or trade unions are monitoring the Code thus “it is not possible to say whether these measures are successful, either in preventing a two tier workforce or stopping the driving down of pay and conditions” (UNISON, 2008).

Service Improvement

Leisure services staff, including senior management, will transfer to a trust under TUPE or TUPE Plus. If a council’s leisure service has a lacklustre improvement record then transfer to a trust is unlikely to change this situation. The same management team will be responsible for service improvement .
Most trusts pay lip service to staff involvement in service improvement, yet Beacon Councils with a high level of staff engagement with the scheme reported significantly higher levels of proactivity, innovation, improvement and organisational performance compared to councils with lower levels of staff engagement.

Community Participation

A Leisure Trust has no additional skills, resources or commitment to improve community participation compared to a local authority.
It sometimes claimed that a trust has more ‘freedom’ to operate, but there is no evidence that trusts have implemented a level or quality of participation over and above that which has been achieved by local authority leisure services.
Many Councils have been innovative in establishing new methods to engage service users and community organisations in leisure services.
Participation structures and methods of engagement must be coordinated – service users and community organisations are already critical of disjointed and overlapping consultation with a plethora of different bodies. The Audit Commission has been highly critical of some leisure trusts for a lack of formal consultation with users and sports clubs, for example, Bristol, Merton, and Stockport.

Democratic Accountability

It is often claimed that trusts ‘engage with the community through direct representation’ but this is a distortion of democratic accountability.
Trusts are required to operate as stand alone organisations, independent from the democratic structures of the council.
The council loses a significant degree of control over the delivery of leisure services.
Company law requires all Board members to act in the interest of the trust, (not the councli or local community) over and above their other responsibilities and interests.
They are also bound by commercial confidentiality.
Furthermore, the vast majority of community and business Board members are unelected and ‘represent’ either themselves or a particular user group.
A trust should be subject to the Council’s scrutiny procedures but ensuring rigorous assessment of arms length companies is difficult enough let alone whether and how recommendations are implemented.
If a trust has financial problems, Councillors will have limited influence over the strategies adopted. These will almost inevitably affect service delivery and staff and implementation of corporate policies and priorities get watered down.

Increased Risks

The risks are real and are retained by the Council:
- Financial and organisational failure could result in liquidation of the trust.
- Savings may evaporate and the trust could require increased subsidy by the Council.
- Job losses and wage cuts could occur as the trust struggles with the challenge of stand alone management and company governance and changes in the leisure market.
- Leisure services performance could fail to improve.
- The trust may win leisure service contracts in other authorities but they could impose additional performance and financial pressures.
- If there is little or no substantive change in the level and quality of participation and user involvement this could lead to disillusion and low staff morale.

A long-term vision for the integration of leisure services with other public services, improved democratic accountability with wider user/staff participation is needed in place of short-term budget savings.

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More than 1,600 members of the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre have been barred from using some of the facilities during the Olympics while the Brazilians use it as a training base – and will not be refunded.
The Olympic pool and all racquet facilities will be out of action between July 16 and August 22 as the Brazilian Olympic squad are using the centre as their base during the games.
Regular users of the centre, run by GLL, have been told they will not be refunded and instead told to share the smaller swimming pool with others during the busy summer holidays or travel to Ealing or London Fields, east London – GLL’s only other centres with 50m pools.

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