A CAMPAIGN warning that almost half of the UK’s sports centres and swimming pools face closure has been backed by Fife Sports and Leisure Trust.

The organisation, which operates venues such as Carnegie, Duloch and Dalgety Bay leisure centres, have pledged their support to Community Leisure UK’s ‘#saveleisure’ initiative.

It says nearly 50 per cent of all public leisure facilities could close by the end of the year unless local authorities receive “urgent, ring-fenced funding from the government to overcome the enormous financial impact of the Covid-19 lockdown period and its legacy”.

The trust, which also operates Pitreavie Athletics Centre, are waiting on the go-ahead from the Scottish Government to re-open venues and said their enforced closure “continues to have a significant impact”.

Chief executive, Emma Walker, commented: “Our backing of the #saveleisure campaign demonstrates the severity of our position, and, as we manage and operate the leisure facilities on behalf of Fife Council, we are calling on it, MSPs, local councillors and other stakeholders, as well as the public, to lobby the government for support to ensure that community leisure services have a long-term, sustainable future.”

She added: “We know our customers are keen to get back to our facilities, however, we would like to appeal for patience and support while we deliver our re-opening programme – we operate 14 leisure facilities across Fife and each one is different and some will lend themselves more readily to social distancing measures than others.

“As a charitable trust, we hope that people will understand the huge impact that the lockdown has had on the organisation and we’d like to assure local communities we are committed to delivering accessible leisure opportunities."

Fife councillor Judy Hamilton said: “Funding for public sector services is much needed as we continue to recover from this crisis. The health and wellbeing of our communities is absolutely crucial, and the leisure sector has a vital role to play in this moving forward.”

Scott Urquhart, sports and physical activity team manager for the trust, added: “Our phased re-opening programme, when it can be rolled out, will see a selected number of facilities opening first, with additional centres opening their doors as soon as possible.

“We have been working with Community Leisure UK, sportscotland and other industry partners to ensure our facilities are Covid-ready so that customer can be confident that they can get active safely with us.

“And, although customers may be keen to use our outdoor facilities, we’d like to reassure them that we are working hard to deliver sports and leisure opportunities wherever possible with the many organisation challenges we face.”

Carnegie will re-open first, then centres in Kirkcaldy and Glenrothes, followed by Dalgety Bay and Cowdenbeath. Duloch, Pitreavie and Bowhill will re-open in the next phase. For more information, go to fifeleisure.org.uk.