Council offers further financial support for the districts Leisure Centres

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Sevenoaks District Council has agreed to provide further financial support to help reopen the District’s leisure centres and produce a robust recovery plan for the trust.

Sencio, which operates the Council’s leisure Centres in Edenbridge, Sevenoaks and Swanley as well as Lullingstone Golf Course, has been severely impacted across most of its operations since the start of the pandemic and seen a huge reduction in its income.

Although under Tier 3 rules gyms, swimming pools and leisure centres can open, the three leisure centres are currently closed. Sencio has told the Council that the increased costs they are faced with coupled with the reduction in services they can offer makes reopening unviable without further financial support.

Sencio have also said that despite the councils previous support unless it receives further urgent financial help the trust could cease trading.

Last night, (Tuesday 15 December), the Council’s Cabinet agreed to give Sencio further funding of £300,000 to help deal with the current financial impact of Coronavirus and on the condition that the leisure centres reopen at the beginning of January.

The Council is also providing an additional £30,000 to fund a new recovery plan for the trust that will aim to give our residents access to the services they want as the leisure centres emerge from the impact of Coronavirus in 2021 and beyond.

The council will be seeking to provide further support to Sencio by applying for Sports England funding that has just been made available to support leisure trusts who have seen their revenues fall through the current pandemic, lockdowns and tier arrangements.

This latest financial support is on top of the help already provided. Earlier this year, the Council agreed to a year’s repayment holiday on an existing £600,000 Council loan equal to around £82,000.

In addition, the Council also paid Sencio its annual management fee upfront earlier this year.

Cllr Lesley Dyball says, “We are absolutely committed to high quality leisure provision in the District and this substantial grant will help Sencio and make sure that it reopens its doors in January.

“The two national lockdowns and the ongoing restrictions have clearly had a profound impact on the leisure sector.

There will be more challenges ahead for the leisure industry, and like most businesses, Sencio will need to change and adapt to survive going forward.

By also providing funding for independent leisure experts, we are helping Sencio to adapt and embrace the new ideas needed to deal with the challenges of the future.”