FUNDING of £865,000 has been given to Wiltshire Council to support the reopening of leisure centre facilities.

The council has worked with local leisure facility partners Places Leisure, Brian Whitehead Sports Centre Association (Downton Leisure Centre, operated by Gymies Ltd) and Cricklade and District Community Association to apply for funding from the government’s National Leisure Recovery Fund.

Sam Fox, Wiltshire Council's corporate director for place said: “We are very pleased to have received this funding on behalf of our partner operators and this funding will assist them with reopening our leisure centres as soon as government restrictions allow.

“Leisure centres and our leisure staff will have a key role to play in helping people get back to leading physically active lives as the nation recovers from the pandemic.”

The fund, which opened in December last year, was set up to provide a funding platform for local authority contracted facilities across the leisure sector to successfully reopen. £100m has been funded by the government with the process managed by Sport England.

Sport England’s chief executive Tim Hollingsworth said, “Leisure facilities have a vital role to play in supporting the health of the nation and in particular in serving our more disadvantaged communities.

“They have been hit especially hard over the past year, so this investment is crucial and will help thousands to reopen when it becomes possible to do so – supporting the recovery and helping people get back to the activity they have badly missed.

“Sport England has worked at pace to enable the distribution of the investment to happen as quickly as possible and remains committed to doing what we can to continue to support this crucial part of our sector.”

The government has already allowed some outdoor sports facilities to reopen, and formalised sports such as football, golf and tennis to resume.

Some Wiltshire Council outdoor leisure facilities have already reopened include the football pitches at Five Rivers Health and Wellbeing Centre in Salisbury for club block bookings, and the tennis courts at the Nadder Centre in Tisbury.

However, this does not include any changing or toilet facilities, and no leisure centre buildings will reopen on this date.

Leisure centres and gyms are due to reopen to the public from April for individual socially distanced use and indoor adult group sports and exercise classes will be permitted to resume from May 17.


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