Council U-turns on plans to close leisure centres and swimming pools due to soaring energy costs
Powys Council has scrapped controversial plans to temporarily close leisure centres and swimming pools due to soaring energy costs.
The council planned to close all leisure centres from December 23 to January 3, 2023, and temporary close several swimming pools until next April.
The temporary closures were intended to address the additional financial challenges faced by the council’s leisure operator Freedom Leisure, in particular the significant increase in energy costs it was incurring, compounded by the UK Government’s decision to remove public sector organisations from the Energy Support Scheme from March 2023.
Opposition councillors were set to “call in” the decision agreed by the Powys administration in a meeting on Tuesday.
Senior councillors, including the leader of the council James Gibson-Watt, said the decision was made to reverse the closures after it was confirmed Powys was to receive more funding than anticipated from the Welsh Government for the coming year.
Some of the money from next year’s settlement will be used to cover the additional costs incurred this year by drawing on reserves this year but replenishing them next year from the increased funding.
It was also confirmed that an urgent review of the county’s leisure facilities will commence early in the new year.
A statement issued by the local authority said: “Before we spend any significant capital funds, we will undertake a comprehensive review of the facilities and we will fully engage with local communities, those who use our services and County Councillors, as well as by working closely with Freedom Leisure.”
“There is some urgency to undertake this review to make sure that our leisure services are sustainable in the future, particularly since we expect significant cuts in public expenditure from 2025 onwards.”
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