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New council support for pandemic-hit leisure facilities

The LC.

Swansea Council is to extend its pandemic funding for its key leisure facilities to keep up their high-quality services for residents across the city.

The council’s ruling cabinet today has agreed to extend funding arrangements for its contract-managed premises, including the LC, community leisure centres, the Wales National Pool Swansea (WNPS) and Plantasia.

The support will be in place until March next year and will cover the facilities’ pandemic-related losses and recovery plans.

Robert Francis-Davies, the council’s cabinet member for investment, regeneration and tourism, said: “Our leisure facilities are key to creating an active and healthy Swansea now and in future – these are our buildings, managed for us by our partners, and it’s right that they should be supported financially during what remains a tremendously difficult time.

“As we emerge from the pandemic Swansea Council intends to stand side-by-side with our partners to support these much-needed facilities which are vital to the health and wellbeing of so many in our communities including children, families and older people.”

The services are run for residents by a series of partnership arrangements between the council and third parties, and at the moment all are operating at reduced capacity in order to keep visitors safe.

The LC and community leisure centres are run by not-for-profit trust Freedom Leisure. Plantasia is operated by contractor Parkwood Leisure.

WNPS is run by a trust and funded by a partnership agreement between Swansea University and the council. Both have contributed to its upkeep during the pandemic.

The pandemic has seen all these Swansea operations close temporarily and furlough many staff. Safety checks and routine maintenance have continued.

The leisure industry and Welsh Local Government Association recommend that those running such public facilities are supported by local councils.

When the cabinet met, it agreed to underwrite financial deficits for the services’ costs, in relation to their Swansea operations.

Continued financial support through to next March could reach around £2.3m. The council will work to claim much of this back from the Welsh Government as part of the country’s pandemic recovery plans.