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East Devon MP supports Big Swim Day

LED Community Leisure asked Simon Jupp, MP to lobby the Government over the crisis facing the leisure sector.

On Friday 24th February East Devon MP Simon Jupp visited Exmouth Leisure Centre to support its Big Swim Day.

Big Swim Day was part of a national campaign to highlight the impact of the Government’s decision to reduce support for gyms, pools and leisure centres from rising energy costs. In November, UK Active published figures showing that 40% of council areas are at risk of losing leisure centres or seeing reduced services before 31st March 2023, prior to the decision to significantly reduce the support available.

LED Community Leisure Ltd (LED) is a not-for-profit charitable trust that runs East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) leisure facilities. Like all public sector leisure facilities, EDDC’s have been hard hit by, firstly, the COVID pandemic and, more lately, the huge rise in energy costs caused by the war in Ukraine. This is a ‘double whammy’ for the industry as it has yet to see a return to pre-pandemic attendance and revenue levels, exacerbated by the increase in utility costs.

LED’s CEO, Peter Gilpin, explained to Mr Jupp the crisis facing public leisure facilities, particularly swimming pools, stressing that it is imperative that the Government urgently reconsider the decision to reduce support for leisure facilities in the Energy Bill Discount Scheme, as well as including swimming pools within those industries selected for additional support. Mr Jupp agreed to raise this matter with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt when meets with him later this week (commencing 27th February).

EDDC has had to provide over £2million in additional funding to LED over the last 3 years to keep their facilities open, particularly the swimming pools, vital during the pandemic for the health benefits for residents. To put this in perspective, LED’s utility costs have increased by over £300,000 since 2020 with nearly £100,000 attributed to Exmouth Leisure Centre, EDDC’s largest facility with both a 6-lane 25m swimming pool as well as a teaching pool.

EDDC’s facilities provide a vital service to East Devon’s residents, with their 3 swimming pools at Exmouth, Honiton and Sidmouth seeing 13,000 swims a month, 6,000 at Exmouth Leisure Centre, with just under half of these being children. LED has 2,500 children registered in their Swim School, 1,200 at Exmouth Leisure Centre. As a coastal district, swimming is an essential life skill for our children.

To reduce its energy costs and carbon footprint LED has installed a Pool Sentry system that includes variable speed drive pool pumps, pool covers, LED and sensor lighting, reduced volume shower heads and a new state-of-the-art heat recovery system that is due to be commissioned imminently. Air source heat pumps, solar panels and a new pool disinfectant system are also being considered.

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