Officials hoping to reduce financial support given to Freedom Leisure

Freedom Leisure has secured £415,000 support from Rother District Council – but officials will try to reduce this figure over the coming months.

It was agreed during the summer to give financial backing to the company, which runs three sites in Rother, until the end of March next year.

But Antony Baden, RDC’s finance manager, told the council’s cabinet that he was “looking to drive that down” through an open book review process with the business.

“They claim for their costs and we go through and look for evidence that they’ve actually incurred those costs,” he said. “A bit of an audit process really.”

Bexhill Leisure Centre – one of the sites operated by Freedom Leisure

Mr Baden said it was unlikely that costs would exceed £415,000, but any further spending would need to be authorised by councillors.

“We support Freedom leisure operationally and financially as best we can, but at the same time we have to look to guard the interests of the council,” he said

The council owns three leisure facilities in Bexhill and Rye that are operated by Freedom Leisure under a management agreement.

These facilities were closed due to lockdown, which meant that Freedom Leisure were unable to generate income and had to incur some costs, according to a report by Mr Baden.

“Following a request from Freedom Leisure, Cabinet at its meeting of the 27 July 2020 agreed to provide financial support until the 31 March 2021,” it stated. “The estimated cost is a maximum of £415,000 and has been included in the forecast.”

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