The Edge Leisure Centre in Haslemere is set to fully reopen ending uncertainty over the futures of wheelchair and cerebral palsy sport in Waverley.

The Haslemere site closed in June after Waverley Borough Council ended its lease with the site owners Surrey County Council.

At the time there was an expectation the two local authorities would be able to negotiate with Woolmer Hill School about taking on the running of the site.

However, during the six-month notice period an agreement could not be reached.

The school is allowed to use The Edge, but only during school hours and this does not include out-of-hours community use.

This has had a direct impact on two disability groups.There have been further challenges between the two councils coming to an agreement after a dispute erupted over the cost and responsibility of repairs – these are still ongoing.

Waverley Borough Council, however has agreed to take on the running of the site with the finances split between the district paying £100,000 a year and the county £150,000.

The decision was formally taken by borough council leader Councillor Paul Follows on Wednesday, December 20.

The interim agreement will enable the facilities to reopen for community use while the county finds a long-term solution that delivers community benefit for the site.

The 12-month deal will return the running of The Edge to Waverley Borough Council allowing the sports hall to reopen.

According to council papers: “This has the advantage of securing the future of the clubs responsible for supporting wheelchair sporting facilities and cerebral palsy football time slots. 

“Failure to enter such an arrangement means we risk losing the associated health and wellbeing benefits that these clubs provide.

“If we do not facilitate this interim arrangement these specific disadvantaged groups will not have equality of opportunity moving forward as the clubs will have to close in the New Year. “

Any income generated during the year, including rent from leisure partners Healthflex will be split between the two councils based on their investments.

The county council will be responsible for maintaining the property with the borough providing operational management outside of school hours via the Woolmer Hill Sports Association (WHSA).

Throughout the saga, Surrey County Council has maintained that it lacked  the skills or knowledge to manage a leisure operator and run a sports hall operation. 

The report read: “The Edge Sports Hall is the only local facility that allows full accessibility for two specific user groups: the Wheelchair Disabled Sports Team and the Cerebral Palsy Football Group.

“It was well used by these groups before closing, providing the physical and mental health benefits that other groups can enjoy at other local sites such as Haslemere Leisure Centre. 

“Denying these two groups an equal opportunity to enjoy the same benefits as other user groups is one of the key reasons that Waverley Borough Council has been engaged with Surrey County Council over opening the facility more widely. 

“This would have enabled such disadvantaged groups to continue their valuable service to community wellbeing whilst a longer-term solution is sought. 

“The delay to opening the Sports Hall has also severely impacted the stability of the disability groups and any further delays will adversely impact on their survivability.”

It added: “The Edge is the only facility truly accessible in the borough and surrounding area.”