Council in funding bid to 'double' aid for Belper Leisure Centre

Amber Valley Borough Council is seeking Government funding in an effort to further increase the support it has already pledged to help Belper Leisure Centre survive under its new ownership.

The council is applying for revenue support of £180,000 from the Government’s Swimming Pool Support Fund – a fund that is available for only local authorities to bid for, initially to help afford the huge hike in energy and other revenue costs.

Amber Valley Borough Council has already thrown a lifeline to the privately run Belper Leisure Centre in the shape of a £150,000 funding pledge, enabling a new not-for profit organisation, Trilogy Active Ltd, to take over the ownership of the popular sports facility.

If the local authority’s new Government funding bid is successful, it could more than double the financial support provided through the council to Belper Leisure Centre.

The move follows a determined drive by Amber Valley’s new Labour administration to support the ongoing viability of the leisure centre, which was previously under threat of closure this summer due to funding gaps.

Councillor Chris Emmas-Williams, who became the new leader of Amber Valley Borough Council in May, said: "We’ve supported the survival of Belper Leisure Centre from the very start, so when we gained control of the council we were determined to do everything within our power to help.

"Belper Leisure Centre is incredibly important for the people of Belper and surrounding areas. It would have been a tragedy to see it close down.

"The potential availability of additional help from the Swimming Pool Support Fund would be a huge bonus for everyone. We are keeping our fingers crossed that our bid will prove successful."

Cllr Emmas-Williams said that, if the full £180,000 value of the funding bid was granted, it would potentially enable the council to release other pledged funds to the leisure centre over a longer period, providing it with an even greater chance of long-term survival.

The Swimming Pool Support Fund was announced in the Chancellor’s Spring Budget this year. Funding will be released in two phases: An initial £20m is available in revenue funding, to support costs like energy bills and pool chemicals, while a further £60m will be made available for capital expenditures, such as the installation of energy efficiency enhancements to cut utility usage.

Local authorities have until Friday, August 11 to submit their revenue support funding bids. The Government will announce the results of those bids at the end of September 2023.

"The process behind the capital funding element hasn’t been announced yet," said Cllr Emmas-Williams. "But we will continue to do all we can to seek further grants where possible. 

"Any successful bids will relieve any immediate funding pressures and will allow us to offer a more measured form of ongoing help for Belper Leisure Centre for the next few years, in the areas that it needs it most."

Trilogy Active Ltd was named earlier this week as the new buyer of Belper Leisure Centre, following an in-depth due diligence process carried out by Amber Valley Borough Council.

Cllr Emmas-Williams added: "We wish Trilogy Active every success in this venture. After ensuring the correct levels of due diligence were satisfied, we are confident that, with the council’s support, Trilogy Active will continue to provide the people of Belper with the sports facilities they deserve."

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