York to spend £800,000 bailing out city leisure centre operator

The council is set to put around £800,000 towards bailing out the organisation that runs York’s leisure centres.

GLL runs Yearsley Pool, Burnholme Sports Centre, Energise Leisure Centre and York Leisure Centre at the new community stadium.

City of York Council has been asked to cover the cost of keeping the centres closed during lockdown, to protect jobs and make sure there are still leisure facilities for residents when the lockdown is lifted.

“The council continues to have discussions with GLL over the cost of managing the centres during the year,” a council finance report says.

“The council has been required to fund the net cost of the facilities whist closed and GLL have suffered from reduced revenues when the facilities have been open during the year.

“The likely additional cost to the council is currently forecast to be circa £800,000 but the council and GLL are seeking Government / Sport England funding to mitigate this cost.”

National company

Burnholme Sports Centre. Photograph: YorkMix

GLL is a national company running leisure centres for councils across the country.

A spokesperson for the company said: “GLL is a charitable social enterprise and not-for-profit organisation that reinvests any surpluses back into our communities.

“With no income during the past three lockdowns, GLL – along with every other public leisure operator in the UK – has asked for financial support from local authority partners, to protect jobs and safeguard public services which will be in greater demand when we reopen.

“We are pleased that City of York Council have identified support for their leisure centres and we continue to work with them during the pandemic.”

The Government launched a £100 million fund for local authority leisure centres in October 2020, with organisations invited to bid for cash.

Results of the funding bids are expected to be announced later this month and the money can be used for costs including utilities, staffing, maintenance and security during lockdown.

Sport England says the money aims to maintain availability of activities such as swimming that are not otherwise easily accessible. Sport England chief executive Tim Hollingsworth said leisure centres are “vital” to keeping people healthy and active.