Bail out saves leisure centre

DAVENTRY Leisure Centre was saved from closure by Daventry District Council (DDC) after the authority provided an injection of cash.

The council gave Daventry Active Ltd (DAL), which runs Daventry Leisure Centre and Daventry Sports Park, £64,000 in December to help cover the operating costs for running the centre.

It was revealed at a full meeting of DDC held on Thursday, March 3 as part of the council’s budget and medium term financial plan.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Chris Millar, DDC leader, who was one of the people who authorised the payment, said the future of Daventry Leisure Centre was in doubt if they did not give DAL the money.

Cllr Millar said: “There were some cash flow problems and if we had not given them this money, there would have been a strong possibility that Daventry Leisure Centre would have closed.

“We would not want to do this. I am sure all the members think that it is an important facility for the people of the Daventry district and that is why we made this payment.”

A total of £48,000 was needed to cover wages while another £16,000 was given to cover urgent creditors.

The report presented to members at the meeting also revealed that the cost of utility bills, currently set at £200,000, is beyond DAL and that more money and officers’ time will be required in the future.

The news comes after four out of the five DAL board members were replaced at the end of last month.

Roland Iacovides, Jo Caddoo, Martin Barnwell and Rob Eddon left with the sole survivor now Alan Hills, a representative from DDC. The idea was originally hailed as a positive example of the big society.

The authority has confirmed that it is working with DAL to secure the long-term future of the leisure centre and sports park.

DDC’s managing director Simon Bovey said: “The council remains proactively engaged with the DAL Board to ensure that the leisure centre continues to offer quality facilities and service, and has given additional assistance to enable that.

“DDC has consistently wanted to ensure that in the long term there is a sustainable operator of our leisure facilities, and officers are currently exploring all options to ensure the service continues.

“Those options could include an in-house service provision but will also likely again identify other external solutions, such as DAL.”