A LIFELINE deal could rescue a cluster of leisure centres and swimming pools from closure.

This comes just months after operator Adur Community Leisure (ACL) was forced to enter liquidation and make about 150 staff redundant.

Sites operated by the organisation have remained shut since the UK entered lockdown in March, but this new deal could see them reopen as early as next year.

Parent company Impulse Leisure said the extreme measure was “due largely to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic”.

The firm was contracted by Adur District Council to run Lancing Manor Leisure Centre, Southwick Leisure Centre and Wadurs Community Pool in Shoreham.

The sites were shut in March when the UK entered lockdown.

And, due to the winding down of Adur Community Leisure, they have not yet reopened.

However, a new deal could see the leisure venues welcoming back customers early next year.

There is a proposal to hand over control of the sites to South Downs Leisure (SDL) which operates leisure and community services in Worthing including the Splashpoint Leisure Centre.

A report will go before Adur and Worthing Council’s joint strategic committee next recommending the director for economy is given the go-ahead to negotiate with SDL.

It will also suggest that a budget of £280,000 is awarded to the company for the preparation and running of the services to the end of March next year.

This money will come from a government emergency grant awarded across the UK to help sports centres.

To support its suggestions, the report states that SDL has an “established financial and operational track record” and “a strong reputation for working with local communities to support health and well-being”.

The proposed move could lead to the creation of new jobs, with SDL needing to recruit staff if they were to take over the sites.

The organisation would also need to ensure the buildings were fit for purpose and the equipment was modernised before the leisure centres and swimming pools could be reopened.

Adur District Council’s executive member for the environment, Cllr Emma Evans, said: “It was sad that ACL could not survive lockdown and that staff lost their jobs.

“However, from that moment we have been working very hard to secure the future of the facilities and SDL have a proven track record in running excellent sports, health and wellbeing leisures services across the border in Worthing.

“We know how important to health and wellbeing activity provided at these centres is to residents, especially in these terrible times, and we hope we can bring real impetus now towards opening doors again next year.”

The proposed deal between Adur District Council and SDL would last for five years, with the council providing more than £700,000 in that time.

It has already spent £300,000 on maintaining the buildings and equipment and preparing for the future since the demise of ACL.

The report points out that mothballing the facilities could still cost £480,000 a year.

Any eventual profit SDL, a charitable trust, generates is divided between further investment and a dividend to the council.