Activities at Brightlingsea Sports Centre – which had its long-term funding withdrawn by Tendring District Council (TDC) last week in a move to cut costs – face an uncertain future after January 2022.
At a meeting with Brightlingsea district and town councillors Mick Barry and Graham Steady on Monday (December 20) TDC confirmed that funding and staffing would continue for the centre at current levels in January, but would be subject to further discussions after that.
The centre has been run under a joint use agreement between the Sigma Trust, which owns the building at the Colne Community College, and TDC, which decided last week not to renew the agreement when it ends on December 31. The Brightlingsea centre costs £76,000 a year to run and TDC has suggested that it could be run by Brightlingsea Town Council (BTC) and the community.
At the meeting, Cllrs Barry and Steady joined representatives from Harwich, where a similar agreement with the Sigma Trust at Harwich and Dovercourt High School is also ending, threatening the future of the town's sports centre as well. BTC will be invited to join the discussions in the New Year.
TDC Interim Corporate Director, Lee Heley said that the that staff levels and the budget already allocated to the centre would be protected throughout January, subject to formal agreement and confirmation with the Sigma Trust. Further discussions are scheduled for early January to determine the centre's future after that.
Cllr Barry requested all available information regarding finances, income and expenditure streams, and staff costs to be made available so that a realistic assessment of options could be made. He pointed out that BTC is not in a financial position to support the centre alone and that devising a rescue plan involving TDC, Sigma and other third parties was a huge task in only three months.
BTC says that there will be further consultation with residents – possibly including a public meeting in early February – to gauge support and get the views of the community about any future proposals.