- Category: About Link4Life
Link4Life is the trading name for the Rochdale Boroughwide Cultural Trust. It is an independent company limited by guarantee (and a registered charity). It is governed by a board of trustees who are all unpaid volunteers.
The purpose of the Trust is to plan and manage the delivery of high quality, enjoyable, affordable, accessible cultural provision in Rochdale Borough that gives residents and visitors the opportunity to lead the healthy, creative, active lifestyle of their choice.
Link4Life was set up on 1 April 2007 to provide cultural services on behalf of Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council under a 15 year Partnership Agreement. Council staff previously engaged in delivering sport, leisure and cultural services formally transferred their employment to the Trust. Services provided cover four main areas:
- Arts and Heritage
- Fitness and Health
- Sport and Leisure
The decision to move services from local authority operation to a new and separate trust was taken by the Council's Cabinet at the end of 2005. All three political parties gave the proposal their support. This decision was based on the following situation:
- Pools and leisure centres were old and increasingly expensive to run
- New facilities were needed but the money wasn't there to maintain them or build new ones
- People were dissatisfied with poor quality and user numbers were falling year on year
- Annual overspending on the budget had led to cut backs and closures making services overall even less viable and a future of long-term decline seemed inevitable.
A programme of investment in new sport, leisure and arts facilities was also agreed and in the six years that Link4Life has been in operation three brand new centres have opened – Middleton Arena, Heywood Sports Village and Rochdale Leisure Centre – with improvements made to other facilities. In total £34 million of investment has been made in this time and the borough of Rochdale now has some of the best facilities in the region.
In brief summary, the basic benefit to Rochdale Council from having the Trust is about cost. When it was set up two things were 'fixed' – the level of service that would be provided (centres, opening hours, prices etc) and the annual fee the Council would pay. And in fact this amount falls year on year – so every year it is better value for money for Council tax payers overall.
Even though Link4Life operate and manage these services the ownership of all the assets of the Borough remain with the Council. This includes all the building stock and also, for example, the Borough's art and heritage collections.
The Trust keeps the Council fully up to date with what it is doing. It supports Township priorities and attends Township meetings. The Trust also works with the Council and the Public Service Reform Board to meet their vision for Rochdale Borough to develop as a prestigious sub-regional centre and as an attractive place to live and work.