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Wyre Council lobbies government for leisure funding

Leisure Centres Published Friday, 11 December 2020

Wyre Council has written to government to push for further details of the £100m of funding announced for leisure facilities and to ask what further support will be made available going forward.

Fylde Coast YMCA is contracted by the council to manage the leisure centres in Wyre. In November, Wyre Council announced its intention to provide additional funding of £340,165 in 2020/21 to enable Fylde Coast YMCA to continue to provide a leisure service in Wyre.

This is in addition to the previously agreed £636,345 of additional funding, bringing the total support package to just under £1million since June 2020. Without this, none of the YMCA centres in Wyre would be in a position to reopen.

Outlining the situation in a letter to government, Councillor Lynne Bowen, Portfolio Holder for Leisure, Health and Community Engagement at Wyre Council said:

“The impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic in our community and upon the provision of our public sector leisure services has been significant.  As a local authority with four leisure centres and three swimming pools we have been hit very hard by the impact of Coronavirus with the services seeing a near collapse in income levels.

“Despite subsidising our operator partner, Fylde Coast YMCA, with just under £1million of additional funding since June 2020, they are currently only able to open two leisure centres and a single swimming pool. Our communities are quite rightly very frustrated and concerned about the longer term impact this will have on health and wellbeing.  The future viability of our leisure centres and pools is a major concern for this council and we are in urgent need of financial support.

“Given the level of additional subsidy needed to keep our charity sector partner afloat in the immediate short term, we have necessarily had to rationalise our leisure offer in order to ensure even this reduced level of service is sustainable.

“Whilst I welcome the announcement of the £100m Government fund allocated to support leisure facilities, I am disappointed that we are still awaiting details of how to bid for this funding.  We urgently need this detail in order to plan what services can be reopened for the reminder of the financial year.

“I would also ask that consideration is given to support for the next financial year as our predictions indicate further subsidies in excess of £1.3m will be needed and we have evidence to suggest that income levels and memberships may continue to be affected by the pandemic beyond 2020/21. 

“In summary, my ask is two-fold, one that further detail regarding the £100m Government funding is released and that funds are allocated as quickly as possible and two that Government considers what support it can offer to Local Authorities to maintain adequate levels of leisure centres and swimming pools going forward into 2021/22 and beyond.”

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