On Friday East Devon MP Simon Jupp visited Exmouth Leisure Centre to support its Big Swim Day.

Big Swim Day on Friday, February 24 was part of a national campaign to highlight the impact of the Government’s decision to reduce support for gyms, pools and leisure centres from rising energy costs.

In November, UK Active published figures showing that 40 per cent of council areas are at risk of losing leisure centres or seeing reduced services before March 31 prior to the decision to significantly reduce the support available.

LED Community Leisure Ltd (LED) is a not-for-profit charitable trust that runs East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) leisure facilities.

Like all public sector leisure facilities, EDDC’s have been hard hit by, firstly, the COVID pandemic and, more lately, the huge rise in energy costs caused by the war in Ukraine.

This is a ‘double whammy’ for the industry as it has yet to see a return to pre-pandemic attendance and revenue levels, exacerbated by the increase in utility costs.

LED’s CEO, Peter Gilpin, explained to Mr Jupp the crisis facing public leisure facilities, particularly swimming pools, stressing that it is imperative that the Government urgently reconsider the decision to reduce support for leisure facilities in the Energy Bill Discount Scheme, as well as including swimming pools within those industries selected for additional support.

EDDC has had to provide over £2million in additional funding to LED over the last 3 years to keep their facilities open, particularly the swimming pools, vital during the pandemic for the health benefits for residents.

LED say their utility costs have increased by over £300,000 since 2020 with nearly £100,000 attributed to Exmouth Leisure Centre, EDDC’s largest facility with both a 6-lane 25m swimming pool as well as a teaching pool.

To reduce its energy costs and carbon footprint LED has installed a Pool Sentry system that includes variable speed drive pool pumps, pool covers, LED and sensor lighting, reduced volume shower heads and a new state-of-the-art heat recovery system that is due to be commissioned imminently. Air source heat pumps, solar panels and a new pool disinfectant system are also being considered.