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Stevenage Borough Council has agreed to provide up to £1.38m to Stevenage Leisure Limited (SLL) to protect leisure services in Stevenage.

The funding will allow SLL – which operates leisure facilities on behalf of the council – to continue running its leisure centre, golf course and swimming pool.

Councillors voted in favour of the recommendation at the Full Council meeting on Wednesday (14 October).

This follows the announcement that SLL was successful in its application for a Cultural Recovery Grant from the Arts Council and have been awarded £480k for the Gordon Craig Theatre.

The grant is to contribute to the running costs incurred during the period of time that the Gordon Craig remains closed, which the scheme deemed to be from 1 October 2020 until 31 March 2021. The grant is to ensure that the theatre remains solvent during this period and to help prepare for its reopening. The grant does not compensate for loss of income.

Councillor Richard Henry, Executive Member for Children, Young People, Leisure and Culture, said: “Up and down the country, leisure facilities are under a huge financial strain due to the pandemic and there’s a very real risk that some of them may not be open this time next year.

“The pandemic has also created huge financial pressures for councils, but we know how important it is to try and preserve our leisure provision in Stevenage which is why we’re providing over £1.3m in financial support to help protect SLL’s facilities and allow it to focus on its performance.”

Due to current government guidelines around Covid-19, some of SLL’s services remain closed or are not operating at full capacity. It is unlikely that the funding from the council will cover the predicted funding gap for 2020/21 so SLL may have to take further savings measures.