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Cabinet to discuss additional funding offer to support leisure centres as energy prices soar

Cabinet members at Uttlesford District Council will be asked to consider an additional £260,000 per annum of funding to support the district's three leisure centres.

The council has a Private Finance Initiative contract with 1Life to run the leisure centres in Great Dunmow, Saffron Walden and Stansted. The contract includes a five-year benchmarking review which provides an opportunity to assess current circumstances, such as utility costs, and adjust payments where necessary. The next review is due in May 2023.

However, the number of people using the leisure centres has failed to recover to pre-Covid levels and, with energy costs also soaring, 1Life has requested additional financial support from the council.

The council is proposing that the £13,825 monthly management fee it receives from 1Life is stopped. This amounts to £165,900 a year. In addition, the council would make monthly contributions of £8,000 - or £96,000 a year - to 1Life. The contributions would be kept under annual review and vary according to the cost of utilities at the time of review.

In total, the council's support would amount to £261,900 per annum.

Cllr Alex Armstrong, portfolio holder for sports and leisure, said: "The leisure centres are important assets for our communities and play a vital role in supporting the physical and mental health of residents.

"The Covid pandemic and now spiralling energy costs have meant the leisure centres have been hard-hit over the past few years. The whole industry is facing significant cost challenges.

"This proposal will help to keep the leisure centres open for local people at a time when other councils are reducing hours, shutting swimming pools, or closing altogether."

The proposal will be considered by the Cabinet at a meeting on Thursday (22 December).

20 December 2022