Financial Support For Leisure Trust Gets Go Ahead

Babergh’s Cabinet have agreed further financial support for their leisure partner, Abbeycroft Leisure, to help keep residents fit and healthy well into the future.

A £150k loan and £270k grant for Abbeycroft Leisure has been agreed, with the loan to be used first, to cover the period up to the end of March 2021. The hope is to ensure Babergh and its residents can remain bright and healthy well into the future.

The council has already supported the not-for-profit leisure trust since the first lockdown, having paid its £238k annual management fee in advance and provided a £256,000 grant.

Almost half of all council-provided leisure facilities across the country are run by leisure trusts. Details of a £100m funding package from central Government are expected to set out further support available soon, to assist the trusts with their Covid recovery.

Cllr Derek Davis, cabinet member for communities at Babergh District Council, said: “The work Abbeycroft Leisure does to support our districts to remain active and healthy is vital. We know our residents really value what they offer, and their approach to supporting them with their health and wellbeing.

“Thanks to their open book approach around the financial impact of COVID-19, we can now put in place a package of measures to support them and their recovery. All while continuing to lobby Government for further funding.

“Staying active will remain as important as ever as we look to recover from the pandemic and support our residents’ health and wellbeing. This funding will play a crucial role in ensuring we can continue to deliver on our health and wellbeing commitments.”

Abbeycroft Leisure run Babergh District Council’s Kingfisher Leisure Centre in Sudbury and Hadleigh Pool and Leisure. They also deliver local community events such as park runs, and the Explore Outdoor’ programme part funded by the council.

Warren Smyth, Chief Executive of Abbeycroft Leisure, said:

“We welcome this additional financial support. As a not-for-profit social enterprise, we reinvest any operating financial surpluses into the facilities and services that we operate. During this incredibly challenging year, we’ve already used our own reserves to ensure that we can continue to support the health and wellbeing of the whole community.

“We work with Babergh District Council through a collaborative open book arrangement and we welcome these new terms. We have lots of experience of successful partnership working and innovation with leisure initiatives. Physical activity will be key in the nation’s recovery from this pandemic, so we look forward to welcoming residents back to enjoy safe, regular exercise in great facilities.”

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