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Pandemic-hit leisure facilities set for extended council support

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Swansea Council is set to extend its pandemic funding for its key leisure facilities to keep up their high-quality services for residents across the city.

The council’s ruling cabinet is due to discuss a possible extension of funding arrangements for its contract-managed premises, including the LC, community leisure centres, the Wales National Pool Swansea (WNPS) and Plantasia.

The support could be in place until March next year and would cover the facilities’ pandemic-related losses and recovery plans.

Robert Francis-Davies, the council’s cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said: “Our leisure facilities are key to creating an active and healthy Swansea now and in future – these are our buildings, managed for us by our partners, and it’s right that they should be supported financially during what remains a tremendously difficult time.

“The past year has been challenging but all partners have performed well, kept costs as low as possible and have prioritised staff and customer safety, following Government guidance throughout.

“The aim for the next two years is for all to return to pre-Covid trading position.

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Wales National Pool is also in line for additional support from the council

“The recovery will not be easy; the months ahead will be uncertain, with continued restrictions. In some parts of England we’ve noticed that leisure services are closing down because of a lack of funding.

“But as we emerge from the pandemic Swansea Council intends to stand side-by-side with our partners to support these much-needed facilities which are vital to the health and wellbeing of so many in our communities including children, families and older people.”

The services are run for residents by a series of partnership arrangements between the council and third parties, and at the moment all are operating at reduced capacity in order to keep visitors safe. At WNPS, for example, sessions are time-limited so as many users as possible can get to swim.

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LC and Plantasia are operating with booking systems and adapted layouts to help keep local communities safe.

The LC and community leisure centres are run by not-for-profit trust Freedom Leisure. Plantasia is operated by contractor Parkwood Leisure.

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WNPS is run by a trust and funded by a partnership agreement between Swansea University and the council. Both have contributed to its upkeep during the pandemic.

Plantasia is run by Parkwood Leisure for the council (Image: Swansea Council)

The pandemic has seen all these Swansea operations close temporarily and furlough many staff. Safety checks and routine maintenance have continued.

The leisure industry and Welsh Local Government Association recommend that those running such public facilities are supported by local councils.

When the cabinet meets on June 17, it will be asked to underwrite financial deficits for the services’ costs, in relation to their Swansea operations.

Continued financial support through to next March could reach around £2.3m. The council will work to claim much of this back from the Welsh Government as part of the country’s pandemic recovery plans.

(Lead image: Swansea Council)

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