4 leisure centres in Cornwall are under threat of closure. They are run by a private company, Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) who say they are struggling to continue, due to the pressure on finances caused by the Covid-19 lockdown when the centres, like many other businesses, were forced to close and suffered a loss of income.
Cornwall Council says it cannot help the company running centres at Wadebridge, Launceston, Saltash and Falmouth to continue to keep them open, as while good leisure provision helps people of all ages stay healthy, active and socially connected, Cornwall Council does not have a statutory duty to provide leisure centres.
However, there are serious questions over a £3.4 million loan paid to GLL earlier this year. Better Leisure Centres (GLL) have been bailed out in many parts of the country according to this Guardian report from earlier in the year.
The Council states:
In Cornwall there is a mix of leisure centres and facilities operated independently by the private or voluntary sector (such as Carn Brea Leisure Centre and Par running track) and leisure centres operated by social enterprise Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) through a contract with Cornwall Council.
The pandemic has had a devastating impact on the leisure sector across the country, and Cornwall has been no exception. The loss of income due to the pandemic is having a long term impact on GLLs finances.
GLL have asked Cornwall Council to allow them to stop operating the leisure centres in Wadebridge, Launceston, Saltash and Falmouth, and the hydrotherapy pool within St Austell leisure centre or, alternatively, to subsidise the operation of these facilities.
Supporting residents through Covid 19 has already hit the Council’s finances hard. Our first duty is to balance our books and provide those statutory frontline services we are legally obliged to provide for our residents. We do not have a budget for subsidising GLL operations or for operating any centres directly.
We are ready to work closely with any local councils or community groups that believe they could offer a solution capable of making some of these facilities financially viable and to explore other sustainable alternatives. However, if no solution or alternative is found, these facilities would close.
There is now a petition created by Amanda Pennington to help save leisure centres under threat. It wants to put pressure on to create legislation to make the provision of public swimming pools and sports centres a statutory function for upper tier councils. Swimming pools and sports centres should be public services provided by local councils and adequately funded by the government. It is a well known fact that fit and healthy people cost the NHS less money. We need to have some joined up thinking regarding public health.
Take a look at the petition and see if you agree.