Redbridge Council wants public services like the borough’s libraries to pay for themselves as it embraces “commercialisation”.

On December 15, the council’s leadership agreed the charity that runs many of these services should decrease its reliance on council funding over the next five years.

Vision Redbridge Culture & Leisure (Vision - RCL) has managed a variety of the borough’s cultural and leisure services for nine years and its contract is now up for extension until 2026.

Inspired by the success of the gym added to the South Woodford Library in 2015, Redbridge Council now expects more services to pay for themselves through profit-making additions.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: South Woodford Library & GymSouth Woodford Library & Gym

South Woodford Library & Gym

They intend to replicate the profits of South Woodford Library & Gym by adding another gym to Woodford Green Library, which is around half an hour’s walk away.

Speaking to the cabinet on December 15, council leader Jas Athwal said: “This is the modern way of working, we want to have everything we do ‘wash it’s own face’.

“This will make (Woodford Green) Library financially independent and therefore take it away from future threats of cuts.

“While others have closed libraries, this council is not only maintaining but also improving them and safeguarding them for the future.”

He added that the renegotiation of Vision's contract will allow the council to "modernise the relationship" and "get as much out of it as possible".

Read more: Redbridge councillors ask leadership not to cut support for voluntary sector

The building work at Woodford Green Library on Snakes Lane West will cost an estimated £280,000 and the gym is expected to deliver a net profit of £2,000 in its first year.

This is based on the assumption that it will gain at least 450 members in the first 12 months. By its third year, it is expected to deliver an annual profit of at least £200,000.

The new facility will replace back-office space at the library and will have 40 exercise stations and changing pods.

Work will also be done to improve the library space itself, such as by replacing soft furnishings and adding flexible shelving.

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