A Cumnock leisure centre is struggling with rising costs, with the council stepping in to offer financial and business support.

Visions Leisure Centre explained to Council Cabinet on Wednesday, October 25, that they are struggling to meet rising costs, which has added to a pre-existing financial burden carried by the not-for-profit organisation. 

In response to the group’s request for further financial support, and following a wide-ranging, positive and fruitful discussion, members agreed a number of recommendations. 

This included payment of £65,000 of a remaining annual grant and the release of the remaining £90k of the pre-authorised support funding aligned to the agreement reached in the April 2022 report to Cabinet.

Members decided to continue with both financial and practical support, including the offer that the Council will work with Visions Leisure to help them look for alternative sources of finance and energy sources to help cut fuel bills and carbon emissions and build future financial viability. 

At the same time they also recommended that the group works co-operatively with partner organisations, such as East Ayrshire Leisure Trust, to take advantage of their vast wealth of experience in running successful leisure facilities.  

Cumnock Chronicle: Visions Leisure Centre.Visions Leisure Centre. (Image: Visions Leisure Centre.)

Reacting to the Cabinet decision, Kaye Hannah, chairperson of Cumnock and District Leisure Group, said: “We welcomed the opportunity to deliver a detailed presentation to EAC cabinet members about our charity and visions leisure centre. 

"The majority of the cabinet members do not reside in our area.  We therefore appreciate the commitment and cross-party support for swimming provision in Cumnock. 

"We are very proud of our facility and wonderful staff who ensure our footfall continues to grow.

"We value the ongoing support from our members and PAYG customers. We have extended an invitation to all Cabinet members to visit our centre, and look forward to welcoming them to the town."

Kaye added: "We as volunteers have fundraised, built, and operated the centre successfully for the past 19 years. 

"The pandemic and energy hike had a massive financial impact nationally on all leisure facilities, particularly those operating pools. 

"Our Charity owns the only 25m competition length swimming pool in East Ayrshire. We were delighted to be able to report to cabinet that membership and attendance numbers are growing month on month.

"It is fantastic to see children back in the water learning to swim, including five local primary schools. 

"We too have a strong belief swimming is a core skill and can save a life. That is our motivation to keep strong and continue to volunteer as board members, during what has been a very challenging and difficult time."

READ MORE: Here are the five 'most haunted' locations in Cumnock

Explaining the decisions made by Cabinet, Council Leader, Councillor Douglas Reid said: “Like many organisations the effects of lockdown and increasing costs have had an impact on the centre’s viability and today’s presentation outlined the issues faced by Visions and called for further support from the Council who have supported the venture from its inception.  

“At the core of our discussions was the strongly-held belief, shared across Cabinet, that swimming provision in Cumnock is of vital importance to the health and wellbeing of the community. There was unanimous support shown in comments from our Cabinet members about the importance of swimming in and around the Cumnock area.

“That’s why, with strong, cross party support we have agreed to recommend release of necessary funds to allow the operation to continue, with a new Service Level Agreement to continue our support of swimming in schools."

Cumnock Chronicle: Cllr Reid explained the Cabinet decision.Cllr Reid explained the Cabinet decision. (Image: East Ayrshire Council)

Cllr Reid added: “At the same time we’ve pledged to include the Visions Leisure Centre in our upcoming Leisure Review which will look at all facilities in East Ayrshire with a view to making sure that all our communities are well served by public and third sector leisure facilities in line with our Community Wealth Building and Net Zero targets.  

“We’ve also recommended that the Visions team works closely with East Ayrshire Leisure Trust to explore marketing and management solutions to maximise footfall."