It’s been great to see Streatham Leisure Centre safely opening again, with the ice rink open to the public once again last weekend. Public leisure facilities play a vital role in supporting local communities but long closures during lockdown have taken their toll. When the Government instructed them to close their doors in late March, most lost their income overnight.
Since then, most have consistently fallen through the gaps in the government’s support packages. Estimates show 67% of public leisure providers are currently facing the risk of permanent closure in the next nine to twelve months. We can’t afford to let this happen.
Since 70% of public leisure facilities are owned by local authorities, the cost of this collapse would only fall back on the exchequer anyway, while depriving people of access. Going forwards, we need to make sure exercise is affordable and accessible for all. A top priority must be ring-fenced central government funding to help local authority leisure providers to preserve these vital services.