Leisure centres face soaring energy bills

Prince Regent Swimming Complex in Brighton is affected by the changes
Prince Regent Swimming Complex in Brighton is affected by the changes

THE organisation that runs the city's leisure centres faces costs soaring to more than £1 million in the next year, according to the council.

The estimate comes after Freedom Lesiure, a not-for-profit trust, told Brighton and Hove city councillors it was cutting opening hours at its sites to combat rising energy bills.

The planned changes mean later opening and earlier closing and some residents have complained this will affect their use of the centres.

Argus reader Luke Tamplin expressed his concern over the changes, saying: “The whole reason I have a membership is so I can swim in the morning before work.”

Another reader said: “This is another cut in services from the council but also prevents residents from going to another place to keep warm."

Freedom Leisure is contracted by Brighton and Hove City Council to run leisure facilities across the area on its behalf.

The trust said it would be cutting hours across seven sites in Brighton and Hove. Some centres will only be affected by half an hour on weekdays whereas others have had weekend services slashed by three hours.

A briefing sent to councillors explained that “leisure centre users in Brighton and Hove will be impacted if centres are not able to afford to operate as contracted”.

A spokesman for Brighton and Hove City Council said: “The cost-of-living crisis is a national issue and rising energy prices are affecting leisure centres up and down the country.

“Freedom Leisure has asked us for support so they can continue to operate the facilities and support the health and wellbeing of our local communities.

"Other potential measures will be considered at the next meeting of our tourism, equalities, communities and culture committee in November.”

Businesses have been particularly affected by the rise in energy prices which have risen considerably higher in comparison with domestic energy bills.

Leisure centres as well as pubs, restaurants and other retailers are concerned about their viability as prices have increased.

Freedom Leisure has been approached for comment.