Edinburgh Leisure tallied up £144,000 surplus despite council budget cuts

Edinburgh Leisure unexpectedly reported a surplus of £144,000 in the last financial year - tallying up £444,000 more than expected amid the city council cutting its budget.

Wednesday, 13th November 2019, 11:45 am
Edinburgh Leisure tallied up an unexpected surplus last year despite council budget cuts, Picture: Lisa Ferugson
Edinburgh Leisure tallied up an unexpected surplus last year despite council budget cuts, Picture: Lisa Ferugson

Edinburgh Leisure tallied up £144,000 of surplus last year – despite predicting an expected loss of £300,000 amid funding cuts from council bosses.

The company, which is owned by Edinburgh City Council and provides sport and leisure facilities on behalf of the authority, was able to increase it’s external funding through grants by 30 per cent in the space of 12 months.

Edinburgh Leisure’s finances for 2018/19 were £444,000 ahead of expectations – allowing it to invest more funding into a swimming pool refurbishment. The company’s management fee from the council was reduced from £8,075,000 in 2017/18 to £7,905,000 last year. This year, Edinburgh Leisure was handed a further £350,000 cut by the SNP-Labour administration at City Chambers and could still face up to £1m being shaved off its finances for each of the next three years.

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The company saw the number of customer visits drop by three per cent in 2018/19 to 4,338,00, excluding secondary schools. This has been put down in part to the closure of Meadowbank while the new sports centre is being constructed.

An Edinburgh Leisure spokesperson said: “As a charity with a vision to inspire Edinburgh to be a more active and healthy city, any surpluses generated on an annual basis are invested in improving our venues and services for the people of Edinburgh.

“The drop in visits can be attributed to Meadowbank currently being closed for redevelopment and Dalry Swim Centre was also closed for six months, reopening in January 2019, whilst it underwent a major life-cycle refurbishment. This has ensured this beloved Victorian pool can continue to serve the community for many years to come as it has done for generations past.

“With the reductions in annual funding from the City of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Leisure remained focused throughout 2018/19 on growing out of the financial challenges; investing to support more people being active and staying active with us and, of course, managing expenditure.”

The £144,000 surplus generated last year has allowed the company to put £250,000 towards the cost of refurbishing Leith Victoria Swim Centre – with the work currently underway. The venue, first opened in 1899 is set to welcome customers again early next year.

To prop up its reduction in funding from the council, Edinburgh Leisure secured grants including from sportscotland and Tennis Scotland in 2018/19.

The company spokesperson added: “An increase in external funding can be attributed to a number of ways including developing significant partnerships.

“The largest element of the funding increase was £250,000 secured from two external funders, sportscotland and Tennis Scotland towards the cost of the new outdoor tennis courts at Craiglockhart. This investment allowed us to transform five clay courts into six new synthetic all weather courts which are better suited to the Scottish climate and provide a fantastic opportunity for more people to participate in the sport of tennis.

“Developing long-term partnerships with external funders is also allowing us to continue many of our active communities programmes, which harness the power of physical activity and sport to tackle inequalities and combat the effects of inactivity. We secured our first philanthropic donation from Baillie Gifford, which is helping to fund our ‘Jump In’ swim programme providing swimming lessons for children from disadvantaged backgrounds in Edinburgh and a donation from Life Changes Trust, helps fund our ‘You Can’ project for care-experienced youngsters.”

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