Leisure centres closed because of the coronavirus crisis may never re-open unless the Government brings forward a financial rescue package to save the sector, according to a new survey.
Leisure centres have a fundamental role to play in the national recovery from the pandemic by improving physical and mental health, and tackling health inequalities. But the District Councils’ Network (DCN) says that leisure centres could be hit with a £305 million bill this year, which would be enough to send many of them out of business.
Those that do survive could be forced to offer reduced services or hours, while the need to social distance, and the implications for customer confidence and footfall, could undermine the sector’s ability to bounce back.
Cllr Dan Humphreys, DCN Lead Member for Enhancing Quality of Life, said: “The sad reality is that our leisure centres are in a crisis right now. Their income has plummeted, and some may never recover without a lifeline from government that helps stabilise leisure centres in the short term.
“Leisure and sport will be critical to improving the health of people from all ages and backgrounds as we emerge from this crisis. As destinations in themselves, they also draw people into town centres, creating community spaces and support for local businesses.
“We should now come together to create a leisure and sport service that plays its full role in the national health and economic recovery.”