At a meeting of the Full Council, West Devon agreed to continue supporting Fusion Lifestyle, their leisure provider, and to give them an additional funding package.
This new financial support will pay for Parklands Leisure Centre in Okehampton to remain open and now enable the full re-opening of Meadowlands Pool and Gym in Tavistock.
Covid has hit the leisure industry hard, with operators covering the cost of maintaining centres with no income coming in and this additional funding is required to allow centres to open at significantly reduced capacities. It will also support all the new safety measures required to open within government guidelines, including meticulous cleaning regimes, staff training and new booking systems.
Cllr Neil Jory Leader of West Devon Borough Council said: "We fully recognise the importance of these facilities to the health and wellbeing of our residents and also the local economy. It is really important to me that we move forward positively now, both with our communities and with our leisure provider.
"There have been some tough decisions here for our councillors, because there are huge financial implications for us. But I am pleased that all our councillors have worked together to come to this solution. I believe is the right way forward and is a really positive outcome for the Borough."
Since Parklands, in Okehampton was able to open in August, residents have expressed their desire for both leisure facilities in the Borough to reopen and many have contacted councillors directly.
Cllr Leech, West Devon Borough Council's Lead Member for Health and Wellbeing added: "I am very happy that the whole of the Council has come to this decision. I trust that this will be a positive move that will allow our residents to get safely back to their activities as soon as possible. Many members of the public have shown their passion for their health and wellbeing, which is embedded into every aspect of what West Devon Borough Council does."
As a result of this decision, the Council and Fusion will be in discussion about when Meadowlands can re-open, it is hoped that this will be in about 2-3 week's time.
WDBC has agreed to cover the costs associated with keeping both centres open in the short term, using money held in reserves for purposes such as this. It will not affect the Council's long term financial position as it is a one-off support package.
Cllr Jory concluded: "We do not know what the future holds, and the impact of any further lockdowns. But for now, we can see how valued these centres are and we will do what we can to work with residents and Fusion over the coming months."
Anthony Cawley, Director of Operations at Fusion said "We are delighted that our Meadowlands centre can now re-open as we know how important our facilities are to the local community. Many leisure centres have not been eligible for government funding during the pandemic. We hope that industry-wide campaigns like #saveleisure raise awareness of the desperate need to keep our centres open and financially viable for the future of the nation's health and wellbeing."
For further information from Fusion go to: www.fusion-lifestyle.com/centres/meadowlands-leisure-pool
To view the Council report, go to: www.westdevon.gov.uk/FullCouncil
Issued: 22 September 2020