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Way forward to reopen Adur leisure centres agreed

Released: Wednesday, 09 September 2020

Adur District Council has pledged to do all it can to speed up the search for a new operator for its leisure centres after allocating more than £350,000 of government funds towards the task.

Lancing Manor, Southwick Leisure and Wadars pool have not reopened after lockdown due to the operating company Adur Community Leisure (ACL) - which was an arm of Impulse Leisure - going into insolvency.

Recognising the importance exercise plays in the health and wellbeing of residents, councillors this week agreed to explore the option of an existing provider taking on the running of its facilities on a short term basis.

They also approved the allocation of government emergency COVID funding towards the project to ensure any new operator can reopen its centres as quickly as possible.

Cllr Neil Parkin, Leader of Adur District Council, said:

“Our leisure centres have always played an important role in our local communities, helping people keep fit and healthy while providing a base for a range of organisations. This has been underlined yet further with the emergence of COVID.

“We know the frustration and hurt that has been caused with the collapse of the previous operator. That's why, with lockdown restrictions now lifted, our focus is on working with the insolvency agents to make sure these vital resources reopen to the public as soon as possible.”

A report discussed by the Councils' Joint Strategic Committee (JSC) this week (Tuesday 8th September 2020) outlined the difficulties that many UK leisure operators have faced due to the pandemic.

Recognising the challenges, Adur District Council released £125,000 of funding to ACL in April, much of which went towards paying their staff for the pre-furlough period.

Further requests for funding - estimated to be more than £1 million, which is half of the Council's working reserves - were made. But before the Council could consider this, ACL declared insolvency in July. This led to all three centres remaining closed.

To support the reopening, executive councillors sitting on JSC agreed to create a dedicated budget of £353,000 using Government COVID-19 Emergency Funding. This will ensure the buildings remain operational, enable the purchase of vital equipment from ACL and speed up the process of finding a new operator for all three sites.

The report says:

“Given the community need and extreme urgency to activate the venues as soon as practical, it is intended to let a shorter term contract rather than undergo a full procurement process at this time.”

Investment in leisure provision is a key part of “And Then ...”, the Councils short, sharp programme of interventions and assistance to help the communities of Adur and Worthing bounce back from the impact of lockdown.

(PR20-107)

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