A MULTI-million pound deal between Test Valley Borough Council and Valley Leisure to run Andover Leisure Centre has finally been clinched, making it the biggest of its kind in the country.

Valley Leisure has won a 15-year contract to manage the ALC, Romsey Rapids, Charlton Leisure Centre and the Knightwood Leisure Centre in Valley Park.

It will also be responsible for other council-led leisure projects in the future.

"There is no other deal like this in Britain," said Ian McKie, the head of leisure and technical services at Test Valley Borough Council.

"Not only is it a fantastic boost for the area's leisure services with new and updated facilities, it's also an incredible deal for the taxpayer.

"The council looks set to save more than £2.5 million over the next 15 years, which it will put back into services elsewhere," he said.

The huge saving is possible because Valley Leisure itself will be pumping more than £5 million into the projects and using its own profits to offset running costs and further improvements.

Before the new deal, this was the council's responsibility. Work has already started on improving the 'dry side' at Andover Leisure Centre. There has been some opposition from users including the Peter Pan Club who are worried the changes could affect their membership. Concern has also been raised over the lack of plans to upgrade the swimming pool.

"We can't do anything structurally with the swimming pool and its present state is not what we want to offer.

"But, we will do our best to improve conditions both in and out of the water," said Ian McKie.