Leisure centres 'could be lost' if government doesn't think of long term plan
Leisure centres 'could be lost' if government doesn't provide long-term funding support.
The YMCA, which operates The Junction Centre in Broadstone, said rising costs were impacting the broader industry.
Martin Stockley, senior operations manager at YMCA Bournemouth, said many leisure centres may not be able to survive solely on membership fees.
He added that The Junction was in the fortunate position in that it received support and usage from local community groups to help fund an investment programme which allowed it to upgrade and provide new equipment.
Earlier this week, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced £63 million will be handed out to keep leisure centres afloat.
Mr Stockley said the announcement in the government’s budget was “welcome”, but the need for funding is “greater than ever”.
“While the government’s contribution is very much appreciated, in reality, it’s only a short-term solution as this investment figure is spread across the UK,” he said.
“Continual funding in specific areas of need is key – and community support initiatives can act as a powerful solution.”
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More than 5,000 members are signed up to The Junction Centre and 900 children took part in the swimming academy last year.
“This is why additional funding is crucial – not just from authorities, but also groups and individuals within communities.
“We are fortunate to receive support and usage from local community groups, which enables a constant focus and investment programme for new facilities, upgrades, and equipment at The Junction.”
One example he gave was the annual New Year quarter marathon, which raised £3,000 to go towards new pool steps.
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“As many leisure centres have been established in their communities for long periods of time, it can be easy to simply see them as ‘part of the furniture’ – and not realise the impact of their loss until it’s too late,” he added.
“The budget announcement was a reminder of how leisure centres need support and their importance within communities.
“No matter how small, ongoing funding and support can go a long way in ensuring the survival of an establishment which is a staple part of a community.”