Shropshire Star

Leisure centres and swimming pools at risk of three-month closure after Christmas

Several leisure centres and swimming pools across Powys could be closed for three months from Christmas.

Last updated
Llanidloes sports centre

The shock decision comes as the escalating cost of energy has seen a predicted £287,000 loss by Freedom Leisure which runs the facilities in a £2.5 million contract with Powys County Council.

The council’s cabinet this week agreed to the temporarily close the leisure centre building in Llanfair Caereinion, Llanfyllin and Presteigne to the public and to temporarily close the swimming pools to both public and schools in Llanidloes, Rhayader and Builth Wells from December 23 to March 31.

The cabinet will also start the process to review leisure service provision in Powys after it was predicted that Freedom Leisure will need an extra £1.1million next year from the council to run leisure services as they are.

Cabinet member for economic development and leisure, Councillor David Selby said: “We face a financial crisis not of our own making, councils throughout the country are having to take decision about much loved services.

“The UK Government has created the unstable financial market and has not reacted to the energy crisis. The whole of the leisure sector throughout the UK has been affected."

“None of the decisions are easy or popular, but they need to be taken.”

He said Freedom Leisure had been taking measures to try and bring down the cost of its utility bills but that was not enough.

Head of finance, Jane Thomas said: “Freedom Leisure are responsible for the financial element of the contract, these are proposals they have carefully considered to mitigate the financial pressures that they are under in delivering that contract.”

Opposition councillors say they are set to “call in” and scrutinise the decision by the Labour/Liberal Powys administration.

Chairman of the Learning and Skills, scrutiny committee, Councillor Gwynfor Thomas said the council should fund Freedom Leisure the £287,000.

“I already have sufficient numbers to call this in, and I will do so, so that it has a proper scrutiny hearing.

“This is not how we should be treating the people of Powys.

Conservative group leader, Councillor Aled Davies said: “With central government support we maintained leisure services during Covid-19 (lockdowns), to blame the UK Government is simply unfair.”

He said there had been nothing said on the issues facing Freedom Leisure in the confidential financial briefing given to councillors following their full council meeting on December 8.