Adur Leisure Centres poised for lifeline deal to reopen

Released from Adur-Worthing Council’s: Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Leisure centres across Adur could be re-opened early next year if a proposal to allow a neighbouring provider to take over the facilities is given the go-ahead.

Officers and senior members from Adur District Council have been working hard to rescue the sports and leisure services previously run by Adur Community Leisure (ACL) after it declared itself insolvent during the lockdown in July.

Lancing Manor Leisure Centre, Southwick Leisure Centre and Wadurs Swimming Pool were immediately mothballed. The buildings are owned by the district council but ACL operated the leisure services within.

Now a deal could be struck between the Council and South Downs Leisure (SDL) which operates leisure and community services in Worthing including the Splashpoint Leisure Centre.

A report to go before Adur & Worthing Councils Joint Strategic Committee next week recommends the Director for the Economy is given the go-ahead to negotiate with SDL and that a budget of £280,000 is awarded to the company for the preparation and running of the services to the end of March next year.

This money will come from a government emergency grant awarded across the UK to help sports centres.

The report points out that SDL has an ‘established financial and operational track record’ and ‘a strong reputation for working with local communities to support health and well-being as well as exemplary work to support people in vulnerable groups’.

SDL would need to recruit staff and, in partnership with the district council, ensure the buildings were fit for purpose and equipment modernised.

Adur District Council’s Executive Member for the Environment, Cllr Emma Evans, said:

“It was sad that ACL could not survive lockdown and that staff lost their jobs. However from that moment we have been working very hard to secure the future of the facilities and SDL have a proven track record in running excellent sports, health and wellbeing leisures services across the border in Worthing.

“We know how important to health and wellbeing activity provided at these centres is to residents especially in these terrible times and we hope we can bring real impetus now towards opening doors again next year.”

Chief Executive of SDL, Duncan Anderson, said:

“It’s great to be working in partnership with Adur District Council on this proposal, potentially creating new jobs and re-opening these leisure facilities to the community in the New Year with a new and improved membership package.”

The proposed deal between Adur District Council and SDL would be for five years and the council would provide funds of more than £700,000 for that period. It has already spent £300,000 on maintaining the buildings and equipment and preparing for the future since the demise of ACL.

The report points out that mothballing the facilities could still cost £480,000 a year. Any eventual profit SDL, a charitable trust, generates is divided between further investment and a dividend to the council.

The report recommends the Director for the Economy is given delegated authority to award the contract in consultation with the Leader of Adur District Council and the Executive member for the Environment.