A proposed new swimming pool for Spalding looks a long way off as councillors discussed concerns over leisure provisions in the district.
South Holland District Council’s Performance Monitoring Panel heard payments to operators Parkwood to subsidise the area’s leisure centres initially during the first lockdown are set to continue as usage and membership are not up to pre-pandemic levels.
A ‘National Recovery’ figure of £203,045 was included in a slide show presentation to the meeting, but it wasn’t clear if that’s the full figure the council has given the operator who took on the running in 2019.
Phil Perry, the assistant director for leisure and culture of the new South and East Lincolnshire Local Partnership which is overseeing the link up of South Holland, Boston and East Lindsey councils, also said the leisure services was “within the top ten priorities the council will be looking at across the partnership”.
“The idea is to find ways to make them run more efficiently across all three authorities to support partnership overall and potentially save money for the future,” he said.
Coun Andrew Tennent raised the issue of the new swimming pool for Spalding to replace the Castle Sports Complex.
He said: “We were half promised that by the time this contract was up and running we’d have a new pool in Spalding.”
SHDC’s communities manager Emily Holmes said “We were at an exciting stage of information gathering and all the conversations around what the future leisure options looked like and then the pandemic hit and scuppered a lot of progress.
“Over the last year recovering we’ve been very much focussed on encouraging people to come back, building customer confidence and making sure everything’s clean and ensure people are getting what they need now.
“Our eyes are now on the future and what our leisure and culture offer looks like.”
Meeting chair Coun Bryan Alcock said: “It’s been coming, coming, coming and it’s past time we had some answers on it.
“Members want the people who have got the contract to use their best endeavours to maximise the use of all of the premises and if that means there’s got to be an attraction to improve the attendances, like better catering, they have to consider it.
“This contract was attractive as it meant the contractors were ultimately responsible for paying the authority a sum of money.
“Well as an authority we’d like to see that sum of money maximised.”