Councillors urged to back £315,000 bid to tackle running costs at Worcester's leisure centres - The Worcester Observer

Councillors urged to back £315,000 bid to tackle running costs at Worcester's leisure centres

Worcester Editorial 25th Jan, 2023   0

COUNCIL chiefs are facing a bill in excess of £800,000 to tackle the increased running costs of Worcester’s three leisure centres.

City councillors will be asked to support a range of measures this evening (Wednesday) to ensure residents continue to have access to sport, fitness and exercise facilities.

The proposals are in response to the recent rises in energy bills that have left Freedom Leisure, the not-for-profit trust which operates the Perdiswell, St John’s and Nunnery Wood centres on the council’s behalf, facing a £585,000 funding gap in the next financial year.

Worcester City Council’s Communities Committee will be asked to support the making of a payment of up to £315,000 to Freedom Leisure in the next financial year to help the operator keep the centres’ running costs at a manageable level.

It will also be asked to support a one-off investment of £550,000 in energy efficiency measures in the council-owned buildings, alongside an increase in prices customers will pay in order to raise £230,000 a year, plus cost reduction measures which will save an annual £40,000 a year.

Coun Owen Cleary, vice chair of the Communities Committee, said: “Leisure centres across the country have been struggling since the pandemic to keep the doors open and the lights on.

“With customer numbers down across the board and energy prices spiralling upwards, a number of councils have had to take the tough decision to close one or more of their centres.

The six-figure payment of up to £315,000 to Freedom Leisure is required to help meet the increased costs of running the three council-owned leisure centres, according to the report.

Meanwhile, the £550,000 will pay for reduce energy usage and CO2 emissions at the three sites and will produce savings of £147,000 a year, with the investment fully paid back within four years.

The proposed energy-saving measures include solar panels, more efficient lighting and new chemical controls at the Perdiswell swimming pool. If this proposal is supported, a detailed business care will be prepared for approval by councillors.

Changes to opening hours at the Perdiswell and Nunnery Wood centres, to deliver savings of £40,000 a year are also being requested alongside an 8.8 per cent increase in prices from April at all three leisure centres to raise £230,000 to help meet energy costs.

Freedom Leisure secured £255,000 from the council’s Policy and Resources Committee in September to meet the surge in energy costs.

Should the measures be approved, they will go forward for inclusion in the budget for the next year.


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