Leisure centres facing 'crisis point' without government funding, say LGA
By Bryan Swanson, Chief Reporter
Last Updated: 07/05/20 10:10am
Leisure centres are facing "crisis point" without access to emergency government funding or support following the coronavirus pandemic, the Local Government Association [LGA] has warned.
The LGA, which represents councils in England and Wales, has written to Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Culture, calling for the government to ensure leisure trusts have access to key funding to safeguard services.
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It says leisure providers must be able to access the new £750m grant-based package for the charity and social enterprise sector.
The LGA says local authorities are responsible for a third of swimming pools, 31 per cent of grass pitches, 13 per cent of sports halls and almost of fifth of all health and fitness facilities.
It is claimed the average leisure utility and energy bill costs £44,000-a-month.
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, chair of the LGA's Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said: "Councils are deeply concerned about the future of leisure trusts, who are charities, societies or community interest companies.
"Leisure facilities provide an affordable space for our communities to exercise and socialise with family and friends. They play a key role in improving our communities' physical and mental wellbeing.
"If we do not act to save these vital community resources, it will cost us much more in the long-term both socially and economically. It is vital that government works with councils and leisure providers to identify any potential funding to avoid reaching a crisis point."
Steven Scales, client services director at ukactive, said: "Partnerships between local authorities and their leisure operators have never been more important, with each facing huge financial pressures as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
"Let there be no doubt; every city and town are facing the loss of vital community leisure facilities which are crucial for the physical, mental and social health of their residents. Our leisure centres are the places where our children learn to swim, our communities gather to meet, and our family and friends recover from injury or illness - we cannot let them disappear."