An interim support package of over £88,000 for leisure provider Fusion has been announced by South Hams District Council.

Fusion Logo with green, red and yellow linked circles with Fusion written in red writing.

The District Council agreed at a Special Council meeting to provide interim financial support to Fusion.

The Council has been working in partnership with Fusion to enable the reopening of leisure centres within the District. Activities at the Ivybridge Leisure Centre will begin again on Monday 3 August.  This will include reopening the new six lane swimming pool with the retractable roof and sundeck, which has been recently completed, and the dry sports activities and gym.

Then from week starting Monday 10 August, Fusion hope to be able to provide dry sports activities and the Gym in the Quayside Leisure centre in Kingsbridge. Fusion will confirm the exact opening dates in due course.

Included in the package of support, are the ongoing costs for Dartmouth remaining closed for the next two months, along with the mothballing costs for all of the leisure centres for the month of July. 

Fusion are also the operator of Totnes Leisure Centre, however they are contracted by Tadpool and not the District Council, as such any decision on reopening remains between those two parties.

The government instructed all leisure centres to close in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic and they remained closed until 25 July. However, reopening has not been easy with the Covid crisis having had a huge impact on the leisure sector.  While most businesses have been supported in some way by Central Government, leisure providers have not received any funding, other than the furlough scheme and the availability of loans.

With strict government guidance on the safe reopening of leisure centres due to social distancing restrictions, there will be a limit to the capacity of visitors using the centres. These restrictions will continue to have an adverse impact on financial forecasts which is very challenging for leisure operators, hence the need for an interim financial support package.

The District Council are lobbying MPs and Central Government for funding to help reopen Leisure Centres. The Council and Fusion are also supporting the #SaveLeisure campaign launched by Community Leisure UK urging the UK Government to commit relief funding to enable the full reopening and recovery of the public leisure sector.

South Hams District Council's Executive Member for Wellbeing, Cllr Jonathan Hawkins, said: "By supporting our contractor Fusion, we not only help ensure there are leisure facilities available in the District for our residents and visitors, but we also help the survival of our partner at such a difficult time in the leisure sector's history.

"We have a contract with Fusion until 2041 and we will work together to tackle challenges as we're faced with them, even ones as difficult as a pandemic. After such a traumatic period for businesses and individuals, it is essential that we do whatever we financially can to support health and wellbeing in the District."

The decision to open some centres and not others, was agreed after discussing a number of issues, including the size of each centre to safely accommodate social distancing restrictions and the cost to reopen.

The Council will review the financial support in September, following a look at their own strategic financial position. Going forward, the support of the Council, or of Central Government, is crucial to ensuring that centres can survive.

Anthony Cawley, Director of Operations at Fusion Lifestyle, said: "We know our leisure facilities are really important for the health and wellbeing of the local community and we want them open again as soon as they are safe and viable. Therefore, we are so pleased our doors are beginning to open again and together with South Hams District Council, we hope our customers will bear with us whilst we implement our reopening plans and they can soon enjoy their centres once again."  

To find out more about the Community Leisure UK campaign and ways you can support, Visit Community Leisure UK.