Burntwood Leisure Centre

Councillors have been told that a blank cheque has not been given out to support the company running leisure centres in Lichfield and Burntwood.

The comments came as members of Lichfield District Council’s cabinet debated the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the local authority’s finances earlier this week.

The council has warned that COVID-19 could see around £1million spent over the next 12 months to support leisure centres, which still remain closed because of the outbreak.

But Cllr Rob Strachan, cabinet member for finance, said that while the council was willing to support leisure provision for the time being, there wasn’t a a blank cheque.

Cllr Rob Strachan

“Leisure is a sector that’s been acutely affected by this pandemic.

“It would appear likely there is going to be a degree of future support that’s required – it is about the extent to which we as an authority have an appetite to support that.

“Currently we are prepared to while it is affordable.

“But we haven’t necessarily given our leisure partner a blank cheque.”

Cllr Rob Strachan, Lichfield District Council

Freedom Leisure operates sites in Burntwood and Lichfield on behalf of the council.

Cllr Doug Pullen, leader of the district council, has already appealed to the Government for more financial support to keep leisure centres open.

He also revealed that more than £240,000 had already been spent as the local authority “supported” Freedom Leisure.

Speaking last week, Cllr Pullen explained:

“Our current modelling estimates that we will need to provide around £1million in additional funding within the next 12 months.”

Cllr Doug Pullen, Lichfield District Council

Ross

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.

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6 Comments

  1. At present no one knows how severe the upcoming recession and job losses will be. Or, how long social distancing will last.

    I have heard estimates that up to an extra 2 million people will be made redundant in the next few months as furlough ends.

    John Lewis in Birmingham will close:
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-53348519

    The council appear to have entered into another agreement where they outsource and are still responsible for every cost associated with the leisure centres.

    Not for profit, is a phrase I hate. Big salaries, friends and relatives employed as consultants and generally wasteful.

  2. It has been difficult to separate Freedom Leisure figures from the Lichfield accounts. A not for profit company (whatever that means).
    Obviously there has been little outgoings over the last few months as presumably furlough payments will have been paid to staff via the government. Other payments like rents and rates are covered by the council.
    Why is Cllr Pullen’s “current modelling estimates” showing a need for a four fold increase? Can we have more transparent information please? Most companies have understandable balance sheets. I would find it interesting how a ‘not for profit’ private company spends the money, both from council support and through attendence takings.

  3. They’re going to sell off Burntwood and fund Friary. They defunded Burntwood anyway before handing over to Freedom, and keeping the Friary loss making operation is costly.

  4. “Leisure” centres are not a leisure service, they are a health service, for everyone including people who can’t afford gyms. Is that something the council thinks it important to invest in over the next few years?

  5. Philip may be not for profit but big saleries and posh cars for the top employees but not for the wonderful staff they took on

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