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Update on Ponds Forge continued closure

Outside Ponds Forge sports centre

The majority of Sheffield’s public leisure facilities, operated by Sheffield City Trust (SCT) and Places Leisure, will reopen by 1 September.

We have provided a package of support to enable most facilities to reopen but at this stage, due to extremely high reopening and running costs, lost income and a gap in Government support, Ponds Forge will remain closed.

A reopening date has not yet been indicated but Sheffield City Council is working with SCT to support reopening as soon as possible.

Councillor Mary Lea, Cabinet Member for Culture, Parks & Leisure at Sheffield City Council, said: 

“Currently we are not in a position to support the reopening of Ponds Forge. This is an extremely difficult decision to which there is no easy solution that meets the needs of all leisure users across the city.

“As with entertainment and theatre venues, the significant lost income that events would normally generate at Ponds Forge, means it is unaffordable to reopen compared with other facilities in the city. We hope to reopen the centre as soon as regulations allow commercial activity to resume, alongside general public use. We do not yet know when this will be.

“We understand the impact that the continued closure of these facilities has on the clubs and athletes who train here and we recognise their importance to the city. Sheffield City Trust is in discussion with all those affected to explore alternative solutions for the time being and we will support this however we can.

“We are supporting UK Active and Sport England in highlighting the need for urgent financial support for the leisure industry from the Government but to date the support package identified does not currently allow for losses where councils, such as Sheffield, subsidise leisure services.

“We are in regular contact with Sport England and are awaiting details of any further support available from central government. In the meantime we are prioritising our communities’ needs and wellbeing by supporting the majority of the city’s leisure facilities to reopen.

“Working with partners, a citywide leisure review is already taking place to make sure Sheffield’s future leisure offer is in a robust position, meeting residents’ needs and supporting active and healthy lifestyles, as we come out of the pandemic.

“Ponds Forge is an iconic and integral part of this, and working with Sheffield City Trust we are committed to securing its future.”

We have committed £15m in this current financial year to support SCT with its facility reopening plans. £10m of this money is not in the budget and is just one part of the council’s £56m of increased costs so far as a result of the global pandemic.

No government support has been made available to cover cost increases for leisure trusts like SCT.