6th Dec, 2020

Councillors agree £170,000 cash boost to help Rubicon Leisure survive pandemic

Ross Crawford 20th Nov, 2020

BOROUGH Council Leader Matt Dormer has pledged his support for Rubicon Leisure after councillors agreed a £170,000 cash boost to help it survive the Covid-19 pandemic.

It comes after warnings the council’s ‘arm’s length’ firm could require an additional £500,000 in the new year should a hoped-for government grant fail to come through in December.

Rubicon Leisure runs many of the jewels in the crown of Redditch, including the Palace Theatre, the Abbey Stadium, Pitcheroak Golf Course and Forge Mill Needle Museum.

But the pandemic has led to the forced closure of its facilities, leaving a gaping hole in its balance sheet.

The Palace Theatre was buoyed by a £173,000 grant from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund in October but the rest of the facilities – despite taking huge steps to ensure they were Covid free – have been left reeling by the impact of the pandemic.

It means Rubicon could be left with a £500,000 hole in its finances at the start of 2021 if government help doesn’t arrive, and with the council itself struggling for money.

Despite this Coun Dormer (Con, West) said he ‘wasn’t panicking yet’.

“Rubicon Leisure hasn’t really had a chance to show what it can do and if we have to keep propping it up then that is what we will do,” he said.

“I feel we don’t have to be too hasty; every local authority is in the same position whether their leisure services are in-house, at arm’s length like Rubicon, or run separately like Everyone Active.

“And there are opportunities – money is cheap to borrow at the moment and there are ventures that can be made to create new outdoor facilities for people to enjoy.

“So let’s not panic.

“If we have to find the money, then we will, if we have to mothball everything, then we will until we can open up again and then hit the ground running.”

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