I have had a number of concerned constituents and employees from Impulse Leisure email me regarding the current situation. I will of course be responding to them all individually, but I thought it would be helpful to publish it here too -
Thank you for your email about the future of Impulse Leisure and I share your concern. I have received a number of similar emails from constituents who work at one of the 3 Impulse Leisure run facilities in my constituency or who use them, when not subject to lockdown restrictions. I have had conversations with Adur Council and I have also been able to speak directly to some members of staff. I am pleased that Adur Council have now issued a statement (available here: https://www.adur-worthing.gov.uk/news/pr20-068.html) as clearly many people have been left largely in the dark about what has been happening by Impulse. It should be noted however that the final decision by Adur Council will not be made until July 7th and until then Impulse Leisure remain in control of the centres.
It is very unfortunate that Impulse Leisure looks set to become a victim of the Coronavirus lockdown which has impacted on the hospitality, leisure and fitness interests particularly harshly. However even before the current crisis there have been questions over the long-term position of Impulse Leisure as a group well beyond their interests in just Adur. You may know that they run leisure centres as far away as Essex as well as other parts of Sussex. In order to keep the whole group going Impulse approached Adur Council and others for a very substantial sum in excess of 6 figures I gather. Clearly a small council such as Adur is just not in a position to produce that sort of money particularly as it has not been clear that this would be anything other than a short term sticking plaster and that money could then be lost to Adur residents with little prospect of getting it back. As Councillor Evans said in the statement, the worry has been that the recovery plans from Impulse management have been “lacking in detail and insufficiently robust”. As it is Adur Council has been paying an annual ‘retainer’ to run the leisure centres whereas it is usually the other way round and councils charge an operator for use of their facilities. In addition Adur has already paid this year’s money up front in order to help Impulse’s cash flow.
In the circumstances therefore it is very difficult to see how Adur could justify to council taxpayers paying out such a large amount of money for a questionable result particularly with so many competing priorities for local people elsewhere.
As Adur Council have stated the priority now is to find an alternative operator to step in as swiftly and as effectively as possible if Impulse Leisure are indeed unable to continue with their contract, as seems likely. Once leisure centres are allowed to open up again it would be good if this could happen as soon as possible as I know what a great range of healthy activities go on there for all ages and backgrounds. I don’t know about you but certainly lockdown has certainly not helped my fitness! A number of people have already indicated to me that they are desperate to get back teaching swimming lessons at Wadurs for example and I hope that the Council can work imaginatively with all those who may be part of the solution for getting the facilities back into operation again. I have offered my help to Adur Council in whatever way I can to bring this about.
I have also suggested that once final decisions have been taken then it would be very helpful if meetings could be arranged between Adur Council officers and councillors and the many members of staff who will be affected to keep them in the picture as much as possible. It is very important that there is full transparency for all those who have an interest in these centres locally. Again I have offered to be involved.
I am sorry not to be the bearer of better news but I hope that you are a little less in the dark as a result of this information and please do let me know if you think there is anything further I can be doing at this difficult time.