Decision details

Freedom Energy Costs Update (with confidential appendix)

Decision Maker: Cabinet

Decision status: For Determination

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: Yes


Freedom Leisure has asked the Council to consider providing financial support to cover the increase in excess energy costs to run the four leisure facilities. The report highlights information from a third-party assessment of leisure centre energy use and also covers submissions to the Sport England Swimming Pool Support Fund.


Agreed to:

·       note the impact that the energy crisis continues to have on the leisure sector;

·       note the continued good operational performance of the Fenland group of leisure centres managed by Freedom and note the Sport England and Government funded energy assessment report regarding the facilities in Fenland;

·       recognise the £4 return on investment that every £1 invested in sport and physical activity generates in England and as part of that return recognise the essential role that the Council’s leisure facilities play in helping to maintain the physical and mental health of our community as highlighted in the attached Appendix I;

·       recognise the significant financial challenges that the Council itself is facing;

·       consider and delegate to the Section 151 Officer, working in consultation with the Portfolio Holders for Finance and Leisure, to offer direct financial support to Freedom Leisure in the form of a repayable loan, on an open book basis, up to a maximum of £100,000 for the period 1 October 2023 to 31 March 2024. This represents 85% of the expected maximum excess energy cost, with the sum anticipated to be reduced by the continuing implementation of the mitigating measures put in place to reduce operating costs and energy consumption. Any repayable loan shall become payable through an annual deduction of any profit generated in excess of the levels predicted in the Leisure Operators Base Trading Account. This is a change from the current 50/50 profit share and will be subject to the performance of the business over the remaining contract period. The past three years have been particularly difficult for businesses across the country. Whilst the operational business has recovered well, there remains no certainty that excess profits will be made in the future;

·       note the swimming pool support fund (revenue) bid information; and

·       note the anticipated bid to the swimming pool support fund (capital) for energy mitigating measures.

Publication date: 13/09/2023

Date of decision: 11/09/2023

Decided at meeting: 11/09/2023 - Cabinet

Effective from: 21/09/2023

Accompanying Documents: