EDDC joins ‘urgent’ funding call for leisure centres
PUBLISHED: 14:11 28 August 2020 | UPDATED: 14:11 28 August 2020
East Devon District Council is teaming up with authorities across the South West in an urgent call for the government to safeguard the future of leisure centres.
They are asking ministers to approve a funding submission to help local authorities meet the costs of reopening and operating leisure centres caused by the lockdown and the ongoing impact of Covid-19.
Local authorities across the South West are making the formal plea following the reopening of some leisure centres while many leisure centres remain closed.
Centres which have reopened or partially reopened are facing increased costs due to additional Covid-secure measures they have had to put in place.
Some leisure providers are reporting up to 50 per cent drops in income which are predicted to continue into the next two years.
Councils which are members of the South West Leisure Group are warning that the government needs to act now before the furloughing scheme ends this autumn and it is too late for the sector.
Many councils have been or are being asked to provide financial support but, in many cases, councils do not have the funds.
Sport England have been leading cross sector support on the challenges facing local authorities’ leisure provision due to Covid-19 and have made the government aware of the severe impact on public leisure provision and the need to secure additional financial support as serious concerns remain over its economic viability.
Geoff Jung, East Devon District Council’s portfolio holder for Coast, Country and Environment, said: “Health and wellbeing for our residents are a key element in our Council Plan, which is why we financially support our Leisure and Sports facilities within our control every year.
“The unprecedented events this year, resulting in all our swimming pools, gyms and sports facilities closing for several months, and now open, but with extra safety and hygiene measures and restriction on numbers has resulted in substantial extra costs and lost revenue.
“East Devon District Council believe that the extra financial aid our leisure facilities requires needs to be urgently supported by this government to safeguard these important assets, the staff they employ, and to continue to promote health and sport for the community.”
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