Edinburgh Leisure addresses misleading media reports around closures

Edinburgh Leisure addresses misleading media reports around closures

By Kath Hudson    16 Jan 2024

Edinburgh Leisure says it is not planning to close venues, in response to media reports

CEO, June Peebles, is committed to maintaining provision, despite financial challenges

The public sector operator is currently forecasting a budget deficit of £3.6m for 2024/25

Talks are underway with City of Edinburgh Council around budgets

Edinburgh Leisure is not considering facility closures, despite a number of stories circulating in local media alleging venues could be closed to balance the books.

June Peebles, CEO of Edinburgh Leisure, told HCM that details included in an internal report were leaked to local media last week and then taken out of context.

Information had been prepared on closures to illustrate the scale of potential financial challenges, however, several media articles omitted to cover those all-important points and reported closures as a fait accompli.

Although Edinburgh Leisure is committed to keeping all of its venues open, Peebles said the financial situation for the operator and also for Edinburgh Council remains challenging.

“Inflation continues to affect our cost base and we’ve estimated a £750k increase in energy costs; meaning our gas and electricity costs in 2024/25 will be £2.75m higher than pre-pandemic levels,” she says.

“We’re also having to meet additional costs due to the introduction of non-domestic rates on pitches and green spaces and increases in water and drainage charges. Alongside our own financial challenges our main funder, the City of Edinburgh Council, is also facing significant challenges in 2024/25.”

Implementing the Real Living Wage, will increase costs by £0.473m in 2023/24 and £0.8m in 2024/25. Edinburgh Leisure is currently forecasting a budget deficit of £3.6m for 2024/25 and is reviewing options and costs to mitigate budget deficits going forward.

“We’re committed to doing everything in our power to continue supporting the health and wellbeing of the City, keep all our venues open, and work towards paying the Real Living Wage,” says Peebles. “However, as evidenced in the report delivered to the Policy and Sustainability Committee, there are no easy solutions to these financial challenges.”

Edinburgh Leisure’s current annual service payment from the Council is £6.7m, which is less than the £7.1m funding it received 25 years ago, despite other income and costs rising four-fold and three-fold respectively over the period. Work is ongoing with funding partner, the City of Edinburgh Council, about addressing these financial challenges.

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