Angus leisure chiefs have been urged not to discount the threat of private gyms as the survival fightback for the area’s sports centres begins.
With doors to start re-opening at facilities across the district for the first time since March, concerns have been voiced over the treacherous road ahead for the Angus Alive leisure trust, which has seen income plummet during lockdown.
Angus Council will pay the trust a £3.9million management fee in 2020/21 but councillors have now demanded to be closely involved in important decisions around a transformation of the arms’ length body aimed at securing its future.
Carnoustie independent councillor David Cheape said: “It just sounds extremely rocky going forward.”
Hinting towards the cost of competing with private fitness operations, he said there were “so many alternatives” for sports provision.
“Is there any option (being considered) of what would be coming out of that side of the provision and focusing on the museums and libraries?.
”I’m not advocating it, but if you’re looking at an options appraisal you need to look at all options.”
Sport and leisure income accounts for almost £90% of the trust’s usual paid-for income of around £400,000 a month.
Kirriemuir SNP councillor Julie Bell said: “Needs must and this report focuses really strongly on the financial situation but I am fearful we will lose sight of how important contact with nature, physical health and access to cultural diversity are to our wellbeing.
“I fear the loss of windows to other worlds that are offered by libraries, theatres and museums.
“It’s not just about money, it’s about problem-solving to be creative about how we deliver these things in a different way.”
Council director Vivien Smith said: “What we would hope to do next time is bring forward the detailed financial information that will help us understand the options we need to move forward.
“We have taken a couple of rapid reactions – it is not just about cuts, it is about how we do things differently.”
Angus administration finance spokesman, Councillor Angus Macmillan Douglas said: “All substantive decisions will be taken by elected members.”