Short-term plan agreed by Scrutiny Committee with Bridport Leisure Centre
The West Dorset District Council has finally held a meeting with the Bridport Leisure Centre to agree a short-term financial plan for the Bridport leisure centre.
It was proposed by the Efficiency Scrutiny Committee to cut its support grant by £50,000 a year for the next four years, however the committee has not ruled out the possibility of cutting its support entirely.
After the Scrutiny Committee’s meeting, they were offered a choice to either make a recommendation to the Executive Committee or setup a working group, which they eventually decided on.
Currently running at an annual loss of £200,000, Bridport Leisure Centre fears this reduction could eventually lead to closure.
Senior Democratic Services Officer, Lindsey Watson said: “Due to forming a working group, there will be no immediate short term financial recommendations from yesterday’s meeting.”
“The Committee is going to take time to take a real good look at the issues at hand, and decide the members who would be best.”
The Bridport and West Dorset Sports Trust Limited was formed originally as a charity in 1975 to provide the leisure facilities for local residents.
Since then the leisure centre has proved to be a popular place for local residents to swim, and exercise at.
To date the leisure centre attracts more than 260,000 visitors per annum, and employs more than 100 staff.
On top of this it is also the home of a number of sporting clubs including: Bridport Rugby Club, Barracudas Swimming Club, Bridport Cricket Club, Bridport Squash and Racketball Club among others.
There are more than a staggering 5,000 exercise classes available per year, and the attendance levels are now more than 80 per cent of its capacity. Popularity of the leisure centres facilities are now so high that many courses, clubs and classes are operating with long waiting lists.
But the trust now fears that without financial support from West Dorset District Council the leisure centre and pool could have to close.
However now Bridport and West Dorset Community Trust have urged customers and the local community to write to the council and let them know how important the centre is to them.
The petition is currently at 1,602 signatures, meaning it can be discussed at the next council meeting, however West Dorset Council has confirmed that they are yet to receive the official submission.
In the short term, options were put forward to pay off the trust’s outstanding loans, £31,422, in return for a significant reduction in the management fee to £127,377 for the next four years.
There are possible suggestions that the West Dorset executive committee could offer a short term grant to the Bridport and West Dorset Trust in the future. This short term grant would need to be in excess of £150,000, which would allow the leisure centre to operate for a 14-month period from April this year.
If this grant were to be given, it would then give the WDDC more time to review the trusts operations, and possibly consider future funding agreements.