Leisure partner praised for keeping facilities open through challenging times

Last Updated: 7 February 2023

7 February 2023

South Lakeland District Council's leisure partner has been praised for keeping the area's facilities open throughout the challenging winter months.

Staff at GLL, the not-for-profit charitable social enterprise that operates leisure facilities on behalf of South Lakeland District Council under the Better brand, have and continue to run them in the face of the massive challenge of soaring energy and utility costs.

Extreme weather at the end of last year also caused some short-term closures at Ulverston Tennis Centre but staff were able to reopen as soon as possible.

With many local authorities throughout the UK being forced to close swimming pools for periods over the winter, Councillor Jonathan Brook, Leader of South Lakeland District Council, said: "Working in partnership with GLL, we have managed to tread the fine line between ensuring our leisure facilities, especially our swimming pools, remained viable and sustainable, whilst meeting the challenges of the energy crisis.

"Access to leisure services is not a luxury but absolutely necessary and enshrined in our commitment to health and wellbeing, tackling health inequalities and driving both local economic and social value to communities. 

"GLL and SLDC agreed actions which represented a very small reduction in opening hours and services and kept leisure facilities open. This would not have been possible without the extremely hard work and dedication of the GLL team in South Lakeland, who have gone above and beyond to ensure these crucial services remained open, or reopened as soon as possible after issues caused by extreme weather.

"It is crucial that leisure centres and swimming pools run in partnership between GLL and ourselves are affordable to all and we pledge to do all we can to ensure inclusivity and accessibility as this crisis continues."

The fitness and leisure sector, especially swimming pool operators which have high energy dependency, nationally is under extreme pressure due to inflation and rising energy costs.

At the end of last year it was projected that energy costs for public leisure facilities would increase by 150 per cent against 2021 and by 185 per cent for 2023. Energy costs are typically a leisure operator’s second highest cost after staffing costs.

Leisure providers are also being hit hard by rising utility costs and wider inflationary pressures in terms of the cost of goods, services and chemicals, while the recent cost of living pressures on households are adversely impacting consumer confidence, throughput and participation rates.

GLL's aim is to offer to anybody, regardless of age or ability, something enjoyable to keep them active and healthy.

A wide range of memberships are available, with nobody tied into a long-term contract.

Kendal Leisure Centre has a swimming pool, gym, dance studio, sports hall and sauna, while Ulverston Leisure Centre has a swimming pool, gym, tennis centre, outdoor pitches and courts.

Activities available at both include badminton, basketball, fitness classes, football, personal training, tennis, senior activities, swimming and swimming lessons.

Windermere Outdoor Adventure Centre also offers canoeing/kayaking, paddleboarding and sailing.

Find out more at: https://www.better.org.uk/leisure-centre/south-lakeland