Wychavon makes vow on leisure funding after warning centres could close without government cash injection - The Evesham Observer

Wychavon makes vow on leisure funding after warning centres could close without government cash injection

Evesham Editorial 13th Nov, 2017   0

WYCHAVON council chiefs have pledged to continue to invest in the district’s leisure centres after the voice of local authorities warned many could close without cash from the Government.

The Local Government Association, which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, is calling on the government to inject new funding into leisure infrastructure in the autumn budget.

In a stark warning, the LGA claimed the majority of council-owned sports halls and swimming pools are at risk of becoming ‘old and tired’ as local authorities’ budgets become increasingly squeezed.

Latest figures released by the association reveal more than 58 per cent of sports halls and 60 per cent of swimming pools across the country are over 20 years old.

The report adds nearly a quarter of those have not been refurbished in two decades.

Councils’ budgets between 2010 and 2020 have been slashed £16billion and the LGA say the funding gap facing councils will be £5.8billion by the end of the decade.

In its Budget submission to Treasury, the LGA is calling on government to introduce a £400million funding pot to pay for improvements to infrastructure for health and wellbeing.

Coun Gerald Vernon-Jackson, chair of the LGA’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said: “Councils need to be given the resources to offer the kind of high-standard, modern facilities the public rightly expects which in turn helps them keep fit and healthy.

“Government has a chance in the Autumn Budget to breathe new life into our leisure centres which saves them from falling beyond repair and forcing them to close.”

However in response, Wychavon leader Coun Linda Robinson said it was ‘very important’ the authority continued to invest in its leisure offering.

“We have invested significantly in our leisure centres in recent years and have plans for further investment, notably an extension to Evesham Leisure Centre, to ensure they continue to offer high quality facilities in what is a very competitive market.

“Because of this, the net cost of running our leisure centres is not significant for our taxpayers with most of the costs covered by charges to the users.

“We do understand that our ability to invest is not the same for lots of other councils.

“We know about a third of adults in Wychavon don’t get enough exercise each week and two thirds are carrying excess weight which has all sorts of implications for the NHS.”


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