Covid-19: Leisure Centres

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – in the House of Commons on 4th February 2021.

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Photo of Simon Fell Simon Fell Conservative, Barrow and Furness

What steps his Department has taken to support local leisure centres during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Nigel Huddleston Nigel Huddleston Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

Sport and physical activity are incredibly important for our physical and mental health and are a vital weapon against corona- virus. The Government recognise the integral role local leisure centres play in providing vital facilities within their communities, and last year the Government announced a £100 million national leisure recovery fund to support public sector leisure centres to reopen. Applications to the scheme have now closed, but I am pleased to say that over 99% of local authorities that were eligible for the scheme have applied, and funding decisions are currently being made and will be announced shortly.

Photo of Simon Fell Simon Fell Conservative, Barrow and Furness

Dalton community leisure centre in my constituency is badly in need of support. It is a fantastic organisation—a community-run charity with a devoted team led by Bernard McPeake—but covid has hit it very hard, with losses running into the hundreds of thousands of pounds. It supports 17 schools and the national leisure centre recovery fund offers a ray of hope. What comfort can my hon. Friend offer organisations like Dalton that they will be supported by this scheme?

Photo of Nigel Huddleston Nigel Huddleston Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to highlight the pivotal role played by Dalton community leisure centre, and indeed leisure centres up and down the country, in sustaining physical and mental health in their communities. That is precisely why we announced the fund. I cannot pre-empt the award that my hon. Friend will be getting locally at this moment in time, but of course we know it will make a real impact for the reasons he articulated. Also, as we have said before, reopening sports facilities overall will be an absolute priority when the time comes to begin easing some of the current restrictions.