Council to discuss temporary closure of leisure facilities due to soaring energy costs
All Powys leisure centres could have an extended break over the Christmas and New Year period, and some could be temporarily closed until the end of the financial year to counter escalating energy costs.
The action is being proposed by Powys County Council and its leisure operator Freedom Leisure in response to the cost-of-living crisis and a big hike in energy costs.
The closures will be considered by the councils Cabinet tomorrow (13 December).
The proposals being debated by the Cabinet include the Christmas closure of all leisure centres from December 23 – January 3, 2023 and temporary closure of Swimming pools at Llanfair Caereinion, Llanfyllin, Presteigne Llanidloes, Rhayader and Builth (to the public and schools) from December 23 – March 31, 2023.
All Saunas will also be closed and leisure centre fees & charges will increase for some activities from January 1, 2023.
Cabinet Member for a More Prosperous Powys, Cllr David Selby said, “The current energy crisis is having a devastating impact on our leisure services at a time when many are struggling to recover from the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“While some activities have good participation and are growing, others including membership and fitness remain considerably below budget.
“The loss of income is being compounded by inflation with increased cost of supplies, services and wages.
“But the greatest impact is escalating energy costs. It is an industry-wide challenge that shines a light on swimming pools and their energy demands and something that is being experienced by all providers – both public and private.
“Freedom Leisure have already implemented a wide range of operational and energy efficiency measures to significantly reduce consumption, however, the additional costs for providing a leisure service in Powys is going to be more than £1m going forward.
“These eye watering levels of increased costs without additional targeted local or central government support are unsustainable.
“The Council is working closely with Freedom Leisure to implement temporary measures to reduce the deficit and investigating options for long-term provision.
“We know the options we are proposing will be disappointing but to take no action would risk the future of all leisure provision and put an unacceptable burden on the Council’s overall budget.
“Leisure provision will still be available in many other locations throughout the county.
“The temporary closures, both leisure centres and swimming pools, are based on those centres with the lowest public use, the highest costs and the greatest level of public subsidy. We are also taking into consideration the availability and distance to alternative centres.
“The action will buy us time, but we will have to carry out a thorough review of all leisure service provision in the county. The current model is unsustainable, and we must work with the people of Powys to create a structure that we can afford,” he added.
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