Pandemic forces council to extend leisure centre contracts

The company which operates Melton’s leisure centres will continue to manage them now until 2024 because the impact of the Covid pandemic has forced the borough council to extend the contracts.

Tuesday, 23rd March 2021, 6:26 pm
An aerial view of Waterfield Leisure Centre in Melton PHOTO Mark @ Aerialview360 EMN-210323-182013001

Everyone Active, which is part of the SLM group, has been the contractor for Waterfield Leisure Centre and Melton Sports Village for almost a decade.

The contracts were due to expire in a year’s time but the council has put on hold its plans to either renew or find a new operator because of the current economic uncertainty.

Both centres are currently closed - as they were for a large period of 2020 - until lockdown restrictions allow them to reopen from April 12, if infections are under control at that time.

An aerial view of Melton Sports Village PHOTO Mark @ Aerialview360 EMN-210323-182029001

Cabinet members felt that extending contracts would be the best outcome for the taxpayer, so services could be guaranteed in the short term and contracts reassessed when it might be more financially appropriate.

Council leader, Councillor Joe Orson, told colleagues: “The extension of the contracts provides certainty for leisure provision in the borough.”

A report from officers which went before their meeting stated: “Leisure providers are not in a position to bid for new contracts or provide competitive financial proposals due to the uncertainty of footfall and other business pressures resulting from Covid-19.

“The extension allows the council to consider the future leisure offer to residents of the borough within the context of a changed environment for the industry in the post-Covid era.”

The closure of the leisure centres during the pandemic has cost the council £398,000 since April 2020.

It had to waive the management fee from the operators of £250,000 and underwrite net costs during the last year of around £228,000.

Securing sport grant funding of £80,000 has helped offset the losses.

Everyone Active will now be contracted to run the centres until March 24.

The council announced earlier this month that it was talking to health officials about incorporating a second Melton GP surgery in proposals to create a leisure park for the town.

Consultants are to be brought in to help explore the options and source potential funding for the scheme, which could involve one of the existing leisure centres with the other site being redeveloped.