A COUNCIL says it cannot step in to save a leisure centre firm facing collapse with dozens of jobs at risk.

Impulse Leisure announced today it was in “severe” financial difficulty and up to 150 jobs are now at risk.

The firm is contracted by Adur District Council to run Lancing Manor Leisure Centre, Southwick Leisure Centre and Waders Community Pool in Shoreham, all of which have been closed since March with no reopening date in sight.

But the council said it would not be able to pay a “very large” bailout payment requested by Impulse Leisure and instead would begin looking for a new operator for the leisure centres.

It is understood the amount requested was at least £1 million.

The Argus: Impulse Leisure operates three leisure centres in Adur district, including Lancing Manor Leisure Centre. Photo: Paul GillettImpulse Leisure operates three leisure centres in Adur district, including Lancing Manor Leisure Centre. Photo: Paul Gillett

“The current view is there is substantial risk any public money loaned will not be recovered,” a spokesman said.

“The council considers the company’s recovery plans submitted to date are lacking in detail and insufficiently robust.

“[The council] is not able to offer the large one-off payment requested for financial reasons or without sufficient likelihood that Impulse will be able to recover and maintain its services for residents. The council did pay in advance the full annual service fee it pays to the company to run services from its buildings.”

Impulse Leisure is ten years into a 30-year contract awarded by the district council to run leisure services.

It receives a yearly service fee from the council as well as any financial surplus it makes.

A council spokesman said he could not give the exact figure for how much money Impulse Leisure requested.

But he said the “very large” amount totalled more than half of the district council’s financial reserves.

The Argus: Leisure centres have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemicLeisure centres have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic

Council environment chief Councillor Emma Evans said bailing out the leisure firm would “place a large financial burden” on the council it could not justify.

“We understand how devastating this news must be to a large number of staff during these uncertain times,” she said.

“The council has done everything possible to support Impulse moving forward.

“But we also have a duty to local taxpayers to ensure that local services are operated efficiently and cannot place a large financial burden on the authority to prop up an external organisation.

“We believe there is a solid future for these centres if we can find the right operator.

“The lockdown has proved people are looking to become more active and if we can look imaginatively at future offerings I see no reason why we can’t return these centres to full health at the heart of their communities.”

Councillors will decide on the future of the district’s leisure services at a strategic committee meeting on July 7.

The Argus contacted Impulse Leisure for comment.

The news comes as Mark Sesnan, chief executive of national leisure chain Greenwich Leisure, said the Government must act soon to avoid a “cataclysm” for leisure centres.

“The light at the end of the tunnel was to be able to open from July 6 – someone has just switched that light off,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday.

  • At The Argus, we are championing the work of traders during the coronavirus pandemic as part of our #BackingSussexBusiness campaign. We are always interested to hear how the community is coming together in this crisis. If you know of a local business battling to do all it can in these tough times and/or offering support to the local community, please get in touch at laurie.churchman@theargus.co.uk and rose.lock@theargus.co.uk.​