Reading Council has secured £159,000 funding to support the recovery of its leisure centres.
The award is part of £100 million government funding that has now been allocated to 266 local authorities across England, to support the recovery of publicly-owned leisure centres and gyms.
The National Leisure Recovery Fund, which opened in December 2020, was established to provide a solid funding platform for the leisure sector to successfully reopen. It has been funded by the Government and managed by Sport England.
Allocations will mean that publicly-owned leisure centres and gyms can begin preparations for reopening as part of Step Two of the government’s spring roadmap. The lifting of restrictions will be subject to approval.
The news comes as Reading prepares to safely reopen its sport and leisure facilities in line with the government guidance. The current timelines include:
More details on how our services are affected by COVID-19.
Cllr Graeme Hoskin, Reading’s Lead Member for Sport, said: “We are grateful for the generous funding that has been announced for our leisure service. There is no denying this has been an incredibly tough year for everyone – and the leisure industry as a whole has suffered both nationally and locally with the necessary restrictions that have been in place.
“This funding is timely as we begin to look to the spring roadmap out of lockdown and plan our leisure reopening with safety as our priority. We are very much looking forward to welcoming residents back to our leisure centres as soon as possible.
“Our community will significantly benefit from this lifeline - the challenges we’ve faced this year have shone a light on how much we need sport and leisure as an antidote to the stresses, pressure and isolation we have faced during the pandemic.
“Sport and leisure will continue to aid our community’s recovery and wellbeing. I’m heartened, in such uncertain times, that with the help of this funding our leisure service can continue to successfully play this role going forward.
“Health has also always been a driving priority for our leisure service, and now more than ever after the significant impacts of Covid-19, our ambition to inspire the communities we serve to lead healthier, more active lives and to offer targeted activities to help reduce health inequalities, is more vital than ever.
“Alongside this funding, which will enable us to reopen our leisure services safely, we are also focussed on our longer-term commitment to providing first-class leisure facilities a town of our size and status deserves. We are investing over £40 million in modern new leisure facilities – including a new leisure centre and two brand new swimming pools – delivered in partnership with our leisure provider, Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL).”
Sport England’s Chief Executive, Tim Hollingsworth, has said: “Leisure facilities have a vital role to play in supporting the health of the nation and in particular in serving our more disadvantaged communities.
“They have been hit especially hard over the past year, so this investment is crucial and will help thousands to reopen when it becomes possible to do so – supporting the recovery and helping people get back to the activity they have badly missed.
“Sport England has worked at pace to enable the distribution of the investment to happen as quickly as possible and remains committed to doing what we can to continue to support this crucial part of our sector.”
Find out more detail on the leisure funding here.
Find out more on the New Leisure Project.