Closure of New Forest leisure centres has cost more than £800,000

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New Forest leisure centres
New Milton leisure centre in Gore Road

THE temporary closure of leisure centres due to coronavirus has cost New Forest District Council more than £800k, it has been revealed.

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The authority said it lost around £835,000 between April and May due to the closure of the five council-run health and leisure facilities at Applemore, Lymington, New Milton, Ringwood and Totton, writes Maria Zaccaro of the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

The news comes as the District Councils’ Network (DCN), which represents 187 district councils in England, warned that some leisure centres may never reopen unless the government brings forward a financial rescue package to save the sector.

NFDC said the closure of its leisure centres resulted in an income loss of about £1.2m over both April and May, but for each of these months the authority received £200,000 from the government through the furlough scheme for staff.

Council leader, Cllr Barry Rickman, said he is leading task groups to look at the council’s recovery plan and the findings will be reported to cabinet.

He added: “We are looking at ways to ensure we can continue providing essential services for our community.

“Our income and costs have been affected by the pandemic, but we started from a strong financial position due to our regular and careful reviewing of our finances and we are lobbying for further Government support to mitigate future losses.”

A government spokesperson said: “We recognise how important leisure centres are for people’s health and wellbeing and we are working closely with the sector to support them to reopen as soon as this is safe.

“Across the country we’re providing councils with an unprecedented £3.2bn to tackle immediate pressures they have told us they are facing, including £96m in Hampshire. This funding is part of around £27bn which the government has provided to support local councils, businesses and communities in fighting the pandemic.”

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