14 December 2022
Leisure centres in Powys will have an extended break over the Christmas and New Year with some temporarily closed until the end of March to counter escalating energy costs.
Powys County Council’s Cabinet and not-for-profit leisure operator Freedom Leisure agreed the action yesterday (Tuesday) in response to the cost-of-living crisis and a catastrophic increase in energy costs.
Cabinet Member for a More Prosperous Powys, Cllr David Selby said, “The current energy crisis is having a devastating impact on our leisure services and the short-term action is needed to reduce overall costs and give us time to conduct a thorough review of leisure service provision in the county.
“The decision was not taken lightly but is essential to ensure the long-term viability of the service. We very much hope that it is short-term pain for long-term gain. To delay or take no action would risk the future of all leisure provision and put an unacceptable burden on the Council’s budget.
“The temporary closures will give us an opportunity to review provision and talk to communities, service users and residents right across Powys and develop a long-term sustainable service for the county,” he added.
Freedom Leisure’s CEO Ivan Horsfall said; “We are frankly devastated that it has come to this. Public sector leisure is one of the most exposed sectors because energy costs are such a large proportion of our overall costs particularly with swimming pools and as a not-for-profit leisure trust we operate at very low surpluses and these increases simply cannot be absorbed.”
“These increases present us and the council with a significant challenge where very difficult and painful decisions need to be made about expenditure and what effectively we can operate in the current climate.
“At Freedom Leisure we fundamentally believe in providing local communities with quality health and wellbeing services. Our programmes are designed to support rehabilitation, active ageing, the prevention of physical, mental and social ill health, and addressing health inequalities, obesity, and support long term health conditions.
“The services we provide influence both the medical and social determinants of health. As a not-for-profit trust we are fully dedicated to providing an affordable, accessible and inclusive health and wellbeing offer to local communities, including providing vital life skills to children and adults learning to swim.
“These vital services are now under threat. The wider leisure sector needs meaningful and long-term support from the UK Government now in order to secure its future,” he added.
Decision in detail
Christmas closure of all leisure centres from Saturday December 24 – January 2, 2023 inclusive.
Temporary closure of Llanfair Caereinion, Llanfyllin and Presteigne (to the public) from Saturday 24 December 2022 – March 31, 2023 (swimming pools closed to public and schools)
Temporary closure of swimming pools at Llanidloes, Rhayader and Builth (to the public and schools) from Saturday December 24 December 2022 – March 31, 2023