Cornish leisure centres need 'urgent financial rescue package' to survive

  • Report by Grace Pascoe

On 25 July, leisure centres, gyms and indoor pools were given the green light to reopen by the government, however many in Cornwall remain shut six months after they closed their doors due to the pandemic.

Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL), which runs the majority of leisure centres in Cornwall, as well as events venues like Falmouth’s Princess Pavilion, is appealing to Cornwall Council and the government for more than £4 million worth of financial support in order to reopen its sites.

The six centres aren’t open yet because of capacity issues. We’re simply in a position where it is not affordable without additional financial support to open these facilities. We’ve asked for approximately £4.25 million to support the Cornwall leisure centres of which there are 14, we’re hopeful that we’ll get some of that funding but we’re still waiting to hear.

James Curry, Head of service, GLL

Regular users of Wadebridge Leisure Centre say they feel disadvantaged as other leisure facilities are open in Cornwall.

It’s just not on, we need to get this centre open, people need to be able to exercise and stay healthy, if there is a second wave of coronavirus people need to be able to maintain their fitness

Amanda Pennington, Wadebridge Town Councillor
Wadebridge Leisure Centre remains closed at present. Credit: ITV West Country News

GLL operates the Cornwall Council-owned sites. In a statement Cornwall Council says:

We have been lobbying government to urgently provide a rescue funding package to safeguard the future of leisure centres. GLL and Cornwall Council remain committed to re-opening more leisure facilities across Cornwall as soon as possible and we will continue to do all that we can to make that happen.

Cornwall Council statement
Leisure centres in Falmouth, Wadebridge, St Ives, Launceston and Saltash remain closed whilst others are only partially open. Credit: ITV West Country News

In a statement the Government says:

We recognise how important leisure centres are for people's health and wellbeing. The Government is providing councils with an unprecedented £4.3 billion to tackle immediate pressures they have told us they are facing, and we are working closely with the leisure sector to discuss how we can support them further.

Government spokesperson
Princess Pavilion in Falmouth. Credit: ITV West Country News

GLL also runs the venue and gardens at Falmouth’s Princess Pavilion. Falmouth resident Sean Stratton has launched a petition to ‘set free’ the gardens, which have been locked shut for the last six months.

This is a public place for the people of Falmouth, they should open up the site for us to use the outside spaces, I can't understand why it was closed in the first place.

Sean Stratton, Falmouth resident

GLL told us seven members of staff are at risk of redundancy at Princess Pavilion and that a rescue package is being sought. It added that, in the meantime, discussions were underway with Falmouth Town Council about it potentially taking on Gyllyngdune Gardens.

Gyllyngdune Gardens remain locked shut Credit: ITV West Country News

GLL expects an update soon on whether or not it will receive any financial support to enable it to reopen further leisure centres in Cornwall.