16 December 2022
We have heard and listened to the views expressed by Members and the people of Powys since the Cabinet decided earlier this week to close some of our leisure facilities between January and March. The decision was made to try and address the additional financial challenges faced by Freedom Leisure in light of the significant increase in energy cost which are compounded by the decision to remove public sector organisations from the UK-wide Energy Support Scheme from March 2023.
On Wednesday we received information about the funding that will be provided to the County by Welsh Government next year. The settlement is better than anticipated. In light of this, we have decided not to implement the decision made by Cabinet on the 13th of December to temporarily close three Leisure Centres and three swimming pools between January and March 2023.
This will lead to additional pressure on our budget this year, and we will use some of the money from next year’s settlement to cover the additional costs incurred this year. This will be done by drawing on Reserves this year but replenishing them next year from the increased funding provided by Welsh Government.
Many of the leisure facilities across the County are in need of investment due to their age and condition. Before we spend any significant capital funds, we will undertake a comprehensive review of the facilities and we will fully engage with local communities, those who use our services and County Councillors, as well as by working closely with Freedom Leisure.
To make sure that we allocate sufficient time for this comprehensive review, it will begin early in the New Year and we will share the Terms of Reference with our Scrutiny Committees. Cabinet and Scrutiny will consider the recommendations of the review in due course.
There is some urgency to undertake this review to make sure that our leisure services are sustainable in the future, particularly since we expect significant cuts in public expenditure from 2025 onwards.
Cllr James Gibson-Watt, Leader of Powys County Council
Cllr Matthew Dorrance, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for a Fairer Powys
Cllr David Selby, Cabinet Member for a More Prosperous Powys
Cllr David Thomas, Cabinet Member for Finance and Corporate Transformation