South West Water puts its trust in the Trust

South West Water and South West Lakes Trust have extended their long running and successful partnership, with the charity South West Lakes Trust now managing the recreational assets of Bournemouth Water.

  

Since 2000, the Trust has managed all of South West Water’s reservoirs for public enjoyment, environmental safeguarding and recreational pursuits. Popular beauty spots looked after by the Trust include Burrator Reservoir and Roadford Lake in Devon, Siblyback, Stithians and Tamar Lakes in Cornwall and Wimbleball Lake on Exmoor. This fully out-sourced model remains unique in the water industry but you only have to look at the public sector’s out-sourcing of sports facilities to leisure trusts to see that it’s happening more and more in today’s changing landscape.

With two million people visiting the reservoirs of the south-west every year it is vital that the visitor experience and public safety is always of the highest standard. Andy Parsons, Chief Executive of the Trust, says: “Reservoirs across the whole of the UK are visited by millions of people every year. These inland waters provide the perfect setting for a great day out – whether that’s for a stroll and a hot chocolate, a spot of bird-watching or something a little more adventurous like windsurfing or kayaking. Over the past 17 years we have secured £12m of public and European funding to significantly improve the facilities, footpaths, cycle trails and sporting opportunities on and around the reservoirs. Our close working relationship with South West Water ensures that the land surrounding the reservoirs in our care is managed sensitively and sustainability for two key reasons (1) to improve the quality of water entering the reservoirs and (2) to make sure these beautiful countryside locations can be enjoyed by everyone today as well as preserved for future generations.”

So when South West Water merged with Bournemouth Water in 2016 it wasn’t long before the two organisations started looking at how the recreation assets of Bournemouth Water could be managed in the longer term. Head of Property and Facilities for South West Water’s parent company Pennon Plc, Guy Busby, welcomed the idea of extending its partnership with the Trust to include the sites in Dorset and Hampshire. He said: “South West Water has enjoyed a long relationship with South West Lakes Trust and this new venture provides an excellent opportunity not only for us to benefit from their expertise but also for the members of the public and other environmental stakeholders who use these facilities.”

  

The new portfolio does share some similarities with the Trust’s existing sites and operations but with fascinating locations like Christchurch Harbour also forming part of the new contract there is still plenty to learn about. Andy Parsons goes on to say: “It’s fair to say that we have a huge amount of knowledge and skills embedded within our organisation but we are also continuously learning. Getting to know the new sites under our management, especially the Harbour, will be a steep learning curve over the next few months but thankfully the Bournemouth Water Leisure team, who are now part of our family, will provide the consistency and know-how to ensure our levels of customer service and public safety are maintained at all times.”

With the new contract only going live in May it will be interesting to see how South West Lakes Trust adapts to life away from the south-west peninsula but it is refreshing to see innovative ways of working in the water industry and two organisations that really believe in each other.

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