LEISURE centres on the Isle of Wight could be in the firing line as an operational review is carried out while money pressures continue.
It follows a dire warning last week from the cabinet member for adult social care and public health, Cllr Karl Love, who said services may have to close to pay for some of the Island’s social care needs if the council is not given more money from the government.
The Isle of Wight Council is set to go over its adult social care budget by £2,647,000 due to rising bills, the struggle to recruit care staff and pressures in providing care packages.
Speaking at the corporate scrutiny committee, Cllr Love said: “We don’t have the ability to generate the money on the Island unless we significantly close things down, such as loss-making leisure centres as has happened in other areas.
“I am not saying we are doing it but it is something we are having to think about because we still have a statutory responsibility to keep adult social care services going.”
Read more: Dire warning of closures needed to balance adult care books
The authority is also facing a hole in its leisure and sports development budget of £1,279,000 due to a lack of income and utility costs.
Despite 1Leisure gym and fitness facilities being open again following the Covid pandemic, One Card membership levels are yet to return to what they used to be.
The Isle of Wight Council says membership in September this year was at 73 per cent of what it was in September 2019, although this is still over its target.
Read more: Covid and energy costs burning a hole in leisure centres accounts
The reduction, however, has not gone unnoticed and a review of services at Westridge, The Heights and Medina is currently being undertaken.
In documents seen by the council’s cabinet last week, it was said the authority recognises the importance of the services to Islanders and visitors but is carrying out the review in light of the large increases in fuel costs and the overall impact of the rise in the cost of living.
It is thought the review will be finished by the end of the year, in time for setting the council’s budget, and then presented to senior managers, directors and the cabinet member for internal use.
The outcome, the spokesperson said, will depend on the findings but if significant decisions are required then the relevant information would be made public.
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