Gillingham Town Council is hoping to reach a decision on any potential financial support for the town’s RiversMeet leisure centre by the end of this month.
The leisure centre asked the town for help after having to stay shut for four months because of the coronavirus epidemic.
But in July the council voted to postpone a decision on helping fund the centre because a majority of councillors wanted more details on the financial implications. At the same meeting one councillor warned the centre was at risk of closure without help.
Now, in ‘response to recent concerns raised by members of the public following the discussion of funding for RiversMeet Community and Leisure Centre at the Full Council meeting on 27th July 2020’ the town’s mayor Barry von Clemens has issued a statement:
It reads: ‘The impact of the current COVID19 Pandemic has put significant financial pressure on businesses, organisations and councils at a national and international level, and Gillingham Town Council is aware of the challenges being faced by many businesses in the town.
‘RiversMeet is a valued community owned asset run by Gillingham Community and Leisure Trust Ltd (the Trust) and is used by many organisations, groups and schools. As a charitable organisation, RiversMeet must comply with the rules as set out by the charity commission which means that the facility is reliant on the financial support of the community and any surplus funds must be reinvested back into the facility.
‘Given the severity of the current crisis and the nature of the organisation, the Trust is looking to the town council for financial support. The town council is legally able to assist the Trust using discretionary powers; however, the town council’s general reserves are low, and so the council need to make some tough choices.
‘At the meeting of Full Council held on 27th July 2020, the request for financial assistance was deferred for further information. To date, Gillingham Town Council has not made a decision on the matter. The council and the trust are currently in discussion regarding a way forward and it is hoped that a decision can be made by the end of the month.’