Opening hours at hundreds of leisure centres and swimming pools cut over rising energy bills

The firm runs hundreds of leisure centres and swimming pools across the UK  ((Stock image) PA Wire)
The firm runs hundreds of leisure centres and swimming pools across the UK ((Stock image) PA Wire)

Opening hours are to be slashed at hundreds of public leisure centres and swimming pools over winter due to the rising cost of heating and lighting them.

Energy bills at GLL - the parent company of Better Leisure, which runs 268 leisure centres across the UK - have reportedly tripled since 2019.

CEO Mark Sesnan described the situation as “unsustainable”, as he said: “Heating a public swimming pool complex now costs over £300,000, up from under £100,00.”

GLL now plans to amend opening hours at most of its facilities between December and Easter.

The social enterprise - which runs swimming pools and leisure centres across London in boroughs such as Lewisham, Lambeth, Camden, Hackney and Ealing - has not yet released details of which facilities will be affected.

“GLL will be introducing an extraordinary winter programme in over 200 leisure centres and swimming pools that we operate on behalf of local authorities across the UK,” said Mr Sesnan. “The winter progamme will be temporary.”

He said the programme will vary for each centre and is “designed to minimise disruption for our customers and to avoid changes for schools and swimming lessons”.

“In practice, some centres will open an hour later or close one hour earlier on some days,” he explained.

“This will enable us to turn off lighting, plant and equipment at the time of maximum energy use, when it is coldest and darkest. This is also when we are least busy. We apologise to customers for any inconvenience.”

It comes after Swim England - the national governing body for swimming - warned more than 100 pools are under threat of closure or a reduction in services in the next six months due to the sector’s growing energy crisis.

Presenting the “dire” forecast, it said recent findings suggest 40 per cent of council areas are at risk of losing swimming pools and leisure centres, and called for “immediate support” from the Government.

Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson said it would be an “absolute tragedy” if the situation was allowed to deteriorate further.

“Pools and leisure centres are vital parts of the community, improving the health and wellbeing of people of all ages,” she said.

“They help reduce pressure on the NHS and social care system, saving more than £350m pounds a year – as well as being a place where people of all ages can learn a skill that could one day save their life.

“However, they are particularly vulnerable to the rising energy prices as we are seeing now with increased closures and service reductions.

“Our fear is that more than 100 pools are under threat in the next six months. That would be a devastating blow for the millions who rely on being active in the water for their physical and mental health.”