Torbay Council has joined calls from across the South West for more Government support for the leisure industry.
Cllr Steve Darling, leader of Torbay Council, said: “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.”
The council is backing the national #SaveLeisure campaign which is asking the Government to commit around £800 million 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.
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 Cllr 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.”
It is estimated that 58,000 leisure jobs across the UK could be at risk unless action is taken.