Posted: Wed 6th Sep 2023

Freedom Leisure in Powys struggles with rising energy costs, finishes year £93,798 over budget /

A “CHALLENGING” financial year has seen Freedom Leisure, who run leisure facilities across Powys, finish £93,798 over their annual  £12 million budget.
This comes even after Powys County Council gave Freedom Leisure and extra £287,000 to help with energy costs
At a meeting of the council’s Economy Residents and Communities scrutiny committee on Monday, September 11 councillors will be presented with Freedom Leisure’s annual report for last year.
The not for profit company run 13 leisure, sports centres, and swimming pools across Powys and were awarded a 15 year contract in 2015 to run the  facilities.
The report said: “As reported throughout 2022-23, utility costs remain our greatest risk.
“Monthly costs are approximately £62,000 more than the previous year.
For 2023-24 the expected increased costs are £988,000 plus compared.
“Trading at current levels, it is not clear how the cost of living crisis will affect our customer’s spending habits on memberships and usage.
“This will become more visible as we progress through 2023-2024.”
The company has seen a 3.71 per cent drop in its use of electricity and 2.75 in gas compared to 2021/2022.
The report explains that this is due to replacing mechanical and electrical plant equipment, investing in LED lighting and “regular energy monitoring.”
It also reveals that Freedom Leisure have signed a new two year fixed electricity contract and a three year gas deal.
Freedom Leisure chief executive, Ivan Horsfall Turner said: “The 2022-2023 financial year has again been challenging for the sport and leisure sector, predominantly due to the alarming increases in energy prices.
“Despite this, Freedom Leisure with the support of Powys County Council has
continued to provide the best possible service for its customers, offering value
for money and accessible leisure facilities in the communities we serve.
“In 2023-2024, the team in Powys will continue to work tirelessly to improve lives through leisure and have a positive impact on both the physical and mental wellbeing of all its customers across Powys.”
The report does contain some good news with a rise of visitor numbers by 35 per cent and a 28 per cent increase in “active participation”  on the previous year.
Likewise casual swimming visits have also increased by 8.58 per cent and membership levels have increased by 19 per cent.
Last December it was revealed that the Powys Cabinet had agreed to close three leisure centres and three swimming pools for three months to save energy.
Following a backlash this decision was reversed and an extra £287,000 was found in this year’s council budget to help Freedom Leisure with the higher energy costs.
In July, the council started an “in depth” review of leisure services in the county and a survey asking people for their views on a “sustainable leisure offer” was open until August 28.
This review will consider the provision, usage, running costs, carbon emissions and building conditions as well as other leisure opportunities available to the people of Powys. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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