THE temporary closure of leisure centres due to Covid-19 has cost a Hampshire council more than £800,000 - it has been revealed, amid concerns over the future of leisure facilities.

New Forest District Council said it has lost just over £800,000 between April and May due to the closure of the five council-run Health and Leisure Centres in Applemore, Lymington, New Milton, Ringwood and Totton.

The news comes as the District Councils’ Network (DCN), which represents 187 district councils in England, warned that some leisure centres may never re-open unless the government steps in.

The majority of councils across Hampshire are yet to disclose the financial impact the pandemic has had on leisure centres.

The government pledged to support councils and providers.

But the DCN is forecasting a financial hit to leisure centres across the country of around £305m this year.

New Forest District Council said the impact to the portfolio budget for April and May is “a net increase in budget requirement of £835,000”.

The council said the closure of leisure centres resulted in an income loss of about £600,000 in April and £600,000 in May but for each of these months the authority received £200,000 from the government through the furlough scheme.

“Taking the net cost to the council of the leisure centre closures to just over 800k for April and May”, the council said.

Council leader Cllr Barry Rickman, said: “We are looking at ways to ensure we can continue providing essential services for our community. Our income and costs have been affected by the pandemic, but we started from a strong financial position due to our regular and careful reviewing of our finances and we are lobbying for further Government support to mitigate future losses.”

The DCN is now calling on the government to provide emergency funding.

A government spokesperson said: “We recognise how important leisure centres are for people’s health and wellbeing and we are working closely with the sector to support them to reopen as soon as this is safe.

“Across the country we’re providing councils with an unprecedented £3.2 billion to tackle immediate pressures they have told us they are facing, including £96 million in Hampshire.

“This funding is part of around £27 billion which the government has provided to support local councils, businesses and communities in fighting the pandemic.”