‘Beast from the East’ cost Edinburgh Leisure £100,000

Portobello in the snow during the Beast From The East. Picture: Greg Macvean
Portobello in the snow during the Beast From The East. Picture: Greg Macvean
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Severe winter weather halted a leisure company owned by the city council from tallying up an additional £100,000.

The Beast From The East, which brought severe snowfall to the city in February and March, blew a huge hole in the income of Edinburgh Leisure.

The company, which runs a host of the city’s sport and activity facilities, was able to make a profit of more than £200,000 last financial year – but was hampered by losing the business of around 30,000 customers during the storm.

The storm brought the city’s transport network to a standstill as freezing temperatures and heavy snow saw the Met Office issue a red weather alert. The majority of schools as the extreme weather took its toll.

Edinburgh Leisure was forced to close down its operations while the storm rolled across the Lothians, and at one point, all facilities were closed.

In its annual financial report to the City of Edinburgh Council’s Culture and Communities Facilities, Edinburgh Leisure outlined its issues tackling the elements, as well as rising costs and a tricky jobs market for employers.

It said: “The net operating financial position for the period April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018 for the ‘core’ business was a surplus of £208,000. A good result appreciating the ongoing environmental challenges: increasing costs, the Edinburgh employment 
marketplace, ongoing competitive pressures and a reduction in the management fee from the City of Edinburgh Council.

“There was also the extreme winter weather conditions, in the form of the ‘beast from the east’ to contend with. The extreme weather resulted in the unprecedented step of closing venues for 2.5 days, which equated to a loss of circa £100,000 in income and 30,000 customer visits. The other significant ‘happening’ in 2017/18 was the closure of Meadowbank on December 3, 2017.”

In the 2017/18 financial year, a round £1.2 million was invested across the Capital to improve the efficiency of the organisation and to “develop welcoming places” for communities.

Additional equipment has been added at the Royal Commonwealth Pool, the cycle studio at Ainslie Park was refurbished as was the gym at Leith Victoria Swim Centrer. Energy saving projects were also put in place, as well as CCTV upgrades at Gracemount, Glenogle, Kirkliston, Leith Victoria nad Portobello leisure and swim centres.

Councillor Phil Doggart asked Edinburgh Leisure chief executive, June Peebles, if there was anything the company wished to do that it was unable to.

She said: “I think we could do more with the health and wellbeing side of things. Physical activity can make such a positive impact on people’s lives.”