Torbay Council joins South West calls for more government support for Leisure industry

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(Last Updated On: August 7, 2020)

Torbay Council is backing the national #SaveLeisure campaign and adding its voice to South West Councils who are calling on the government to do more to support the Leisure industry.

Nationally, the #SaveLeisure campaign is asking the UK Government to commit around £800m of relief funding to enable the full reopening and recovery of the public leisure sector as a result of the catastrophic impact of COVID-19.The campaign is led by Community Leisure UK, ukactive, and CIMSPA.

Regionally, South West Councils recently wrote to Nigel Huddleston MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Sport, Heritage and Tourism, expressing concerns about financial pressures faced by councils in trying to maintain local leisure services due to the impact of COVID-19, and the very real threat of some closing if more support isn’t forthcoming.

Across the UK, the campaign estimates that some 58,000 leisure jobs could be at risk unless action is taken, while across the South West councils are anticipating around £14 million of additional cost pressures and a further £10 million of reduced income caused by the impact of the virus.

Councillor Steve Darling, Leader of Torbay Council, said: “We fully support the national #SaveLeisure campaign and endorse the letter from South West Councils to Nigel Huddleston MP.

“This is a very serious situation and if we don’t get support for the sector we will all lose out on facilities for the community – we are aware of potential redundancies across Devon and the wider South West. Given that the government has recently launched a new Obesity strategy, support to enable leisure centres to stay open should surely form an important part of this.”

In Torbay, Parkwood Leisure were due to take over the running of the Riviera International Conference Centre (RICC) from April this year but the planned takeover had to be put on hold when the centre was forced to close in March in line with government COVID-19 guidance.

As a result, the Council had to step in to take control of the RICC management company and provide short term financial support in the absence of sufficient support from the government, though the long term aim is still for Parkwood Leisure to take over the management and operation of the RICC on a 25-year lease basis. The Council also recently supported Torbay Leisure Centre in Paignton with an additional £100,000 support during the shutdown.

Deputy Leader Councillor Darren Cowell said: “We need to do all we can to safeguard our local leisure facilities, and in the case of the RICC, not just a leisure facility but also our principal conferencing and events centre. We will continue to lobby government via our meetings with local MPs Kevin Foster and Anthony Mangnall for more support for the sector and discuss the passing of the management to Parkwood – all in the interests of securing a positive future for this important asset for both tourism and the community.”

You can find out more about the national #SaveLeisure campaign here: https://communityleisureuk.org/work/saveleisure-campaign/ or search #SaveLeisure on social media.

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