Cornwall Council refuses to say if GLL leisure centre loan was repaid

Cornwall Council has declined to answer whether a £3.4million loan given to leisure centre operator GLL has been repaid after it was revealed that four centres could close.

The council this week launched a consultation about the future of leisure services in Cornwall after revealing that GLL had said it wants to stop operating centres in Falmouth, Launceston, Saltash and Wadebridge as well as the hydrotherapy pool in St Austell.

As a result the consultation document indicates that all four centres could close unless alternative operators can be found such as transferring them to town or parish councils or community groups.

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One of the main reasons for GLL wanting to stop operating the centres was due to the pressure on finances caused by the Covid-19 lockdown when the centres were forced to close and ended with a loss of income.

To help Cornwall Council earlier this year agreed to provide a grant of around £3.4m to ensure that all centres operated by GLL would reopen when restrictions were lifted.

Councillors at the time said that it was expected that the money would be repaid by GLL.

The Local Democracy Reporting Service asked Cornwall Council whether that money had been repaid but it declined to comment.

The council was also asked whether there were any measures in place to ensure that GLL will continue to operate all other leisure centres in Cornwall which are included in its contract and if there were safeguards in place to protect their future but again the council would not comment.

In a statement issued when it announced its consultation Cornwall Council said that it was altering the contract with GLL after it said it no longer wanted to run the four leisure centres. We asked whether any other changes had been made to the contract or whether GLL was in breach of its contract by withdrawing from the four centres. The council declined to comment. 

In response to all our questions Cornwall Council said: “The council is undertaking a consultation on the future of leisure provision. Until this has concluded, no decisions will be made on the proposals. 

“The consultation document provides information about the issues and challenges Cornwall’s leisure sector is facing and the council’s recommended response for dealing with them. 

“The outcome of any contractual discussions with GLL are dependent upon the outcome of the consultation.

“Throughout the consultation period, we will be working with communities to try and find ways of creating a sustainable leisure network.”

To take part in the consultation, which runs to October 31, go to letstalk.cornwall.gov.uk/leisure

Online public meetings are set to be held about each of the leisure centres affected from October 6 to October 14, with details from the same website.

Falmouth Packet | Truro