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A longer wait for leisure

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By Fiona Reid
A longer wait for leisure

LEISURE centres, swimming pools and council run gyms in the region may not be back up and running for a year or more.

That’s the view of council chief executive Gavin Stevenson, who told councillors that restarting the facilities will be “incredibly challenging”.

Officials are waiting for guidance, due in just over a week, but Mr Stevenson said: “There will be no model I can see that will allow us to charge as we will not have a fully functioning leisure service back up. We will not be able to open all facilities.

“The challenge around swimming pools will be enormous. Starting leisure up after closing it down will be huge.” He compared it to the issues around the hospitality sector and added: “It’s how we respond to what the government is allowing us to do. We will have to look at it in a hard, cold, systematic way: what will be a sustainable leisure model moving forward?”

He believes the emphasis will initially be on outdoor leisure and warned it could be 12-18 months before indoor sites can reopen. Mr Stevenson said: “There’s lots of guidance we need to analyse and move forward. Getting the service back up then properly restarting it will be incredibly challenging.

“It’s a valuable public service but as soon as you open you lose money.”

Annandale North Councillor Adam Wilson called for the public to be kept informed and said: “We have got a public that really understand. If the council are open and honest about it, say we cannot offer the same level of service as did before. We might need to freeze membership or look at a new model, we need to communicate with them.”

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