New analysis by the LGA shows that nearly two-thirds of leisure centres are outdated and need urgent new investment.
Up to 63 per cent of sports halls and swimming pools are more than 10 years old, according to figures shared with the LGA by Sport England. Nearly a quarter of all sports halls and swimming pools have not been refurbished in more than 20 years.
Central government funding for leisure infrastructure reduced by a third over the past decade. The LGA is calling on ministers to use the forthcoming Budget to introduce a £500 million funding pot for councils to redesign, upgrade and renovate facilities to the standard needed to support healthy, active communities and transform the nation’s health.
Council-run leisure facilities – swimming pools, gyms, football pitches and sports halls – are vital to local communities as they contribute to physical and mental wellbeing. The NHS spends millions of pounds a year treating preventable diseases that could have been avoided by access to sports facilities.
Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Chair of the LGA’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said: “Local leisure facilities play a vital role in ensuring our communities remain healthy, but too many are now in desperate need of being updated and refurbished.
“Council-run leisure facilities provide thousands of people with access to affordable gyms, swimming pools and exercise opportunities they would otherwise not have.”
“Under-investment has meant that many councils have not been able to provide the necessary refurbishments to some outdated sports facilities.
“Where refurbishments have been possible, they have been shown to save an average of £500,000 a year, so investment pays for itself.
“With desperately needed investment, councils can improve our leisure facilities and help use the upcoming Commonwealth Games to inspire our communities to become healthier and more active.”