A COUNCIL says it is "unable to offer financial support" to leisure centres as they attempt to reopen.

The sites in Brighton and Hove are run by Freedom Leisure, but the city's council says it cannot provide funding to the company due to its "financial position".

Instead, Brighton and Hove City Council is proposing to extend the company's contract, due to expire in March next year, for three years and waive the management fee from July 2020 to March 2021 "to spread the cost over a longer period". It is hoped this would help Freedom Leisure reopen more sites.

The majority of leisure centres in the city are still closed, despite an ease in government lockdown rules allowing them to reopen from July 25.

Currently, only the Withdean Sports Complex is welcoming back visitors, with the King Alfred site set to reopen on Saturday.

The council will consider a proposal to open two further sites at a special policy and resources committee meeting on Friday. If agreed, the plans would allow the Portslade Sports Centre and Stanley Deason Leisure Centre to open from September 1, with the Moulsecoomb Community Leisure Centre and St Luke’s Swimming Pool following on October 1.

A council spokesman said: "Prince Regent Swimming Complex will remain closed for the time being as major health and safety works are underway to replace the ventilation system."

Councillor Marianna Ebel, joint chair of the Tourism, Equalities, Communities and Culture Committee, said: "We know how valued our community leisure centres are and how much they have been missed during the lockdown.

"Looking after our health, both mental and physical has been given new meaning during these challenging times but leisure centre operators across the country are facing a very difficult financial situation. In the light of this we are doing all we can to safely open facilities and enable them to keep open for our residents."