Leisure operator and not-for-profit charitable social enterprise GLL has agreed a medium-term plan for leisure provision in Newcastle that mitigates some of the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The following facilities will continue to operate with modified hours: West Denton Leisure Centre (dry facilities), Newcastle Trampoline Park and Gym, East End Pool and Gosforth Leisure Centre. The soccer facilities at Walker Activity Dome will also continue to operate.
The closure of all leisure facilities across the UK for over four months during lockdown, coupled with the requirement to now operate at reduced capacity in order to comply with social distancing, has resulted in a significant loss of revenue for GLL, which is impossible to recoup.
GLL must reluctantly scale back its leisure provision in Newcastle for the medium term which means some facilities will not reopen.
The indoor facilities at Walker Activity Dome, Eldon Leisure Centre and West Denton Swimming Pool will remain closed until the impact of the pandemic on the business and the leisure sector is clearer. The decision will be reviewed after six months.
The changes will enable GLL to continue to deliver leisure services within the city, while all leisure centre members will be offered city-wide access to the facilities that remain open at no additional cost. School swimming lessons will continue to be delivered.
Staff consultation began on 1st September 2020 and it is anticipated that 40% of GLL’s permanent positions within Newcastle will be lost. GLL senior managers are working closely with the trade unions and staff will be offered voluntary redundancy.
Gareth Kirk, GLL’s Regional Director for Newcastle said: “The exceptional circumstances in which we find ourselves as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic have meant we have had to make some hard choices. The reality is, we could only continue to operate in the city if we took action to cut our operating costs.
“Reducing leisure services and so staff numbers, is not a decision we have taken lightly. But we believe this is the best available option for Newcastle. It will allow us to continue with a reasonable health and fitness offering across the city and retain the majority of our staff.”
Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods and Public Health, Cllr Irim Ali, said: “Our officers have been in discussions with GLL about the impact the pandemic has had on the leisure facilities they operate in Newcastle.
"We are very disappointed that they are having to reduce their level of service in the city. This is not what we wanted to see but we have to recognise the leisure industry has been hugely affected by the pandemic and GLL as the biggest operator have some hard decisions to make.
“Our officers continue to meet with them to offer support and monitor the take up of gyms and pools which have reopened. We will work with GLL to explore any available options for a long term solution.”
GLL remains committed to providing Newcastle’s public leisure service, working in partnership with the Council on a longer term strategy to move the service to a sustainable financial position allowing for service enhancements.