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Torfaen Leisure Trust to receive ‘one-off’ payment of £500,000 to help balance books

People sat on the 4G pitch at Cwmbran Stadium
Crowds at an outdoor cinema event at Cwmbran Stadium

A TRUST that runs leisure centres in Torfaen is to receive a “one-off” payment of half a million pounds of public money to help balance its books. 

The payment will be in the form of a £500,000 uplift to the £1.3 million management fee it receives to operate three former council run centres, as well as the Pontypool Ski Slope and Cwmbran Stadium. 

The trust, which is a registered charity, was established in 2013 to manage the public facilities, but has said it needs additional support from Torfaen Borough Council for the upcoming financial year as user numbers haven’t returned to pre-pandemic levels and it has also been hit by soaring energy costs. 

Its latest accounts, filed with the Charity Commission, show in 2022 it received £2.8 million from Torfaen Borough Council. 

That included £1.5 million via the £1.3 million service fee and a further £196,938 “additional service fee”, plus a £1.2 million sum that was attributed to a Torfaen council hardship fund and listed as a grant. 

In 2021 the council had agreed to provide the trust with £1.3 million a year through to March 2027 and to freeze an annual 4.67 per cent decrease in funding until at least March 2023 “to enable the Trust to recover from the business impact of the Covid-19 pandemic”. 

Torfaen’s Labour cabinet is now being asked to approve the £500,00 one-off increase in return for the trust producing a balanced budget and that it engages with the council on a planned “fundamental review” to ensure it returns to financial sustainability for the 2024/25 financial year. 

A report for the cabinet states: “Pre-pandemic the Torfaen Leisure Trust has been successful since its inception in both absorbing inflation and reducing the financial management support from the council.

“However, in common with most leisure providers the TLT is experiencing significant financial challenges primarily as a result of significant energy inflation as well as income and usage levels not yet returning to pre-pandemic levels.” 

Last September the council also agreed to borrow £1.8 million from a government-backed finance firm on behalf of the trust to provide new floodlighting at Cwmbran Stadium and other energy-saving improvements at its five venues. 

The additional payment will be funded from Torfaen council’s reserves and will be considered by the cabinet as part of its proposed 2023/24 budget which it is due to discuss at its Tuesday 14 February meeting at Pontypool Civic Centre before the budget is put forward for the approval of the full council. 

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Torfaen Leisure Trust to receive ‘one-off’ payment of £500,000 to help balance books