New Forest District Council (NFDC) will discuss at their Cabinet meeting (6 December 2023) supporting Freedom Leisure by contributing towards the additional cost of energy at the district’s five leisure centres arising from unforeseen global influences over the last couple of years.

This is necessary due to the significant increase in energy prices and will support the leisure centres being able to continue operating.

The expected financial contribution from NFDC will be covered by existing budgets and is expected to be £348,000 for contract year 2, with less support expected in contract years 3, 4, and 5, in line with anticipated reduced wholesale utility prices.

Cllr Dan Poole, Portfolio Holder for Community, Safety, and Wellbeing said,
“The extraordinary increase in utility costs nationally, which could not have been foreseen, has had a particular adverse effect on the leisure industry.

By agreeing to help with a share of the additional costs, we can ensure the continuing provision of leisure facilities for our residents.

“It is important to note that if we had not started our partnership with Freedom Leisure, the Council would be facing 100% of the burden of these unforeseen additional costs.

“Freedom Leisure has already made changes to address the cost of energy they are facing, including the reduction of pool temperatures, the temporary closure of sauna and steam facilities, and fees and charges adjustments.

Despite these mitigations, and a successful grant from Sport England to support the utility overspend, there remains a gap between the budgeted position, and the actual spend.”

NFDC continues to work with Freedom Leisure to address energy consumption at the leisure centres.

A recent example was the end-of-life gas boilers at New Milton Leisure Centre, being replaced with more energy efficient air-source heat pumps.

Cabinet papers: Agenda for Cabinet on Wednesday, 6th December, 2023, 10.00 am Council Services