THE SPECTRE of closure for three council-funded sports centres in Thurrock edged a step nearer after a meeting of the council’s Health and Well-Being committee on Thursday night.
As part of the savage cuts, the council are proposing to cut the £600,000 grant in half for 2010-11 to £300,000 and in half again to £150,000 by 2011-12.
The three sports centres are based in Belhus, Corringham and Blackshots.
Impulse Leisure is a Charitable Trust, which manages Thurrock Council’s three Leisure Centre at Corringham, Blackshots and Belhus Park. The Trust
was set up during 1999 and formally took over the management of Thurrock Council’s Leisure Centres in 2000.
In 2001, the annual grant was £1,154,000. Analysts believe that it will be nigh on impossible for the centre to run with a grant deficit of £1 million in ten years.
According to the council, Impulse Leisure made a trading loss of approximately £250,000 between 2007 and 2009.
Last year, Thurrock Council gave the council a one off payment of £250k after there were serious concerns regarding bankruptcy.
The council admitted even a small reduction would damage the operational ability of the three centres.
The council’s Let’s Talk consultation said: “Even a 10 per cent reduction would have a very significant adverse affect on service provision. The closure of a leisure centre might be an outcome of a significant reduction.”
But councillors admitted that these cuts could see the end of all three centres.
Stifford councillor Anji Gaywood said: “We have a nationally renowned Thurrock swimming club that could now be made homeless and thousands of residents with nowhere to enjoy sport.”
Conservative councillors pleaded with the committee to divert money for a credit union and put it into saving the three centres (see sep. article). The committee also proposed that the cuts be spread over four years instead of two.
Cllr Wendy Herd asked how discussions with Impulse Leisure were progressing.
Council officer Simon Black said: “Discussions with the chief executive were at their earliest stages.”
Outside the meeting, a source close to YourThurrock said: “This is what the council leader John Kent meant when he said that people don’t know what is going to hit them. This is just the beginning.”