Leisure centres across Cornwall to reopen thanks to £4 million rescue package

The funding will allow GLL to reopen Saltash, Launceston, Wadebridge and St Ives leisure centres, Ships & Castles in Falmouth and the swimming pools at Bude, Liskeard and Helston.    Credit: ITV News West Country

Leisure centres across Cornwall will reopen by mid-October thanks to a rescue package from Cornwall Council.

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

Now, the funding will allow GLL to reopen Saltash, Launceston, Wadebridge and St Ives leisure centres, Ships & Castles in Falmouth and the swimming pools at Bude, Liskeard and Helston.   

The funding means all GLL swimming pools except one will be opened no later than October 14.  

The vast majority of the funding announced on Wednesday 30 September will be in the form of loans to the providers totalling up to £4.4m. 

It will also include additional grants, loan holidays and contract payments of up to approximately £1.7m, all funded from Council reserves. 

Cornwall Council, GLL and other local authorities across the West Country are calling on the Government to provide an urgent financial rescue package to help secure the future of leisure provision.

The funding means all GLL swimming pools except one will be opened no later than October 14.   Credit: ITV News West Country

James Curry, GLL’s Head of Service in Cornwall, said the coronavirus pandemic has hit them 'very hard financially'.

He said he was 'delighted' to have the care package and reopen all Cornish leisure centres, however, he said, "Covid-19 restrictions mean having to operate in a different way and that does sadly mean losing some local jobs in the short term."

He went on to say that, "As the job retention scheme draws to a close at the end of October and market conditions remain challenging, we are having to re-shape the business in order to ensure its future viability."

The vast majority of the funding announced on Wednesday 30 September will be in the form of loans to the providers totalling up to £4.4m.  Credit: ITV News West Country

The pandemic has created huge financial pressures for us as a Council and this package has been a difficult decision.

Cornwall Councillor Mike Eathorne-Gibbons

Cornwall Councillor Mike Eathorne-Gibbons, Cabinet member with oversight of the leisure agreement between the Council and GLL, said, “This financial package of more than £6m puts our residents’ health and wellbeing first and will provide a lifeline for GLL and our other leisure providers to keep leisure centres open while we carry out a strategic review of all our leisure services and continue to push Government for urgent funding for leisure provision.

“The pandemic has created huge financial pressures for us as a Council and this package has been a difficult decision but we must try to preserve leisure provision in Cornwall because it is so important to our residents’ health and wellbeing.

“Our leisure providers are operating in a state of uncertainty as people use leisure centres differently now than they when they did pre Covid so our providers will still be having to make some tough operational decisions in the months to come. 

“We want to thank everyone in Cornwall who has gone back to using their leisure centres which have strict Covid-secure measures in place. We hope that as many people as possible will return to their community leisure centres once they are reopened.”