Calls for leisure funding for South West as swimming pools in Torridge remain shut

Torridge Pool in Northam. Picture: TDC

Torridge Pool in Northam. Picture: TDC - Credit: TDC

Torridge and North Devon district councils are among local authorities in the South West urging the Government to provide funding to safeguard the future of leisure centres.

In Torridge, Northam, Torrington and Holsworthy’s pools and leisure centre remain closed, and Torridge District Council (TDC) said it has not reached a position where the facilities can reopen on a viable basis.

North Devon Council’s (NDC) leisure facilities have undergone a phased reopening, with swimming pools at North Devon Leisure Centre and Ilfracombe set to reopen on Tuesday. (September 1) with a range of safety measures and guidelines in place.

Both councils are among the many which have been asked to provide financial support to operators, but are unable to reclaim the money from the Government.

Now authorities in the South West are making a formal plea to the Government to intervene and provide more support.

TDC leader, Councillor Ken James said it was recognised that leisure facilities in the district are ‘a vital asset for the health and well-being of communities’, and said the council was doing all it could do to safeguard them.

He added: “We have worked closely with our leisure management partner since the start of the lockdown, but we have still not reached a position where we can afford to re-open the three leisure centres in Torridge.

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“We would welcome additional financial support from the government so that we can deliver these important services.”

NDC leader, Cllr David Worden, said: “The leisure facilities provided by local authorities are vital to our communities as councils provide the facilities that the private sector is not generally interested in such as swimming pools etc.

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“Councils that outsourced management of these facilities are now being penalised by the government because they cannot recover the vast sums of money now being required to effectively prop up their external providers and enable them to open facilities.”

South West Council’s chairman John Hart said it was ‘vital’ the Government supports councils’ efforts.

He added: “There is now a real risk that facilities in some areas will not be opening.

“That will undermine national initiatives to reduce obesity and make the nation healthier and more resilient.”

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