Council to set aside £300,000 for leisure centres

Ely Outdoor sports association

Ely Outdoor Sports Association, Downham Road, Ely, and one of the district's leisure centres that could benefit from a new fund being created by East Cambs Council. - Credit: EOSA

A £300,000 ‘pot’ is being created by East Cambridgeshire District Council to boost local leisure centres.  

An explanation of how the money will be found has been provided by finance manager Ian Smith.  

In a report to the annual budget making council meeting, he says it will replace the “historic” £32,000 set aside annually for leisure grants.  

Mr Smith says the council has until now held money in reserve for what is termed the “district leisure centre sinking fund”.   

The original purpose of the fund was to allow for the council to replace the district leisure centre, including plant equipment, if necessary, in future years.  

GLL is the operator of The Hive and in 2016 the council awarded a twelve-year contract which includes a five-year option to extend.  

“Throughout this period GLL is required to repair/refurbish The Hive as necessary, excluding the structure of the building and the plant equipment,” says Mr Smith. 

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“The forecast balance of the reserve at the end of 2021/22 is £165,849 and the current MTFS (medium term financial strategy) is forecasting a further £638,379 being transferred into the fund during 2022/23 and 2023/24.” 

Mr Smith said the council had considered whether this reserve is necessary and have explored alternative options should future investment be required.  

He said that if the council decided to replace its leisure centre or replace equipment it could use Community Infrastructure Levy funds or implement a new management contract to the Hive operator that would make them responsible.  

"The council recognises that investment in other leisure providers across the district is beneficial to the residents of East Cambridgeshire,” said Mr Smith. 

To meet this commitment, he says the council proposes to create a £300,000 reserve to help existing providers across the district make improvements. 

“This fund will replace the historic leisure grants (£32,000 per annum) and will not be time limited,” said Mr Smith. 

“The intention of the fund is to enable leisure providers to make improvements to the business that facilitates sustainable growth in the future.”  

A scheme, including criteria, will be designed and presented to the operational services committee in March 2022.  

Earlier this month council leader Anna Bailey tweeted that “we have a proposal coming to full council in February to make capital funds available to support leisure centres in the district”.