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Aid deal for Islington leisure centres operator

Town Hall could agree package to defer rent owed by Greenwich Leisure Limited

15 May, 2020 — By Calum Fraser

The Sobell Centre is currently being used as a coronavirus crisis food hub

THE council is set to give financial aid to its leisure facilities provider.

An “urgent” report ­proposes deferring £1.2million in rent owed to the Town Hall by Greenwich Leisure Limited, known as GLL or Better.

GLL has also asked that Islington top up the wages of its furloughed staff, a request officers have advised against in case other contractors demand the same deal.

All membership fees have been suspended during the lockdown with eight leisure centres closed since March 20.

There are nine years remaining on the council’s 15-year contract with GLL, who the report said may need support for at least 12 months due to the possible effect of long term social distancing measures.

A GLL spokesman said: “As a trusted local authority partner with a strong financial and social business model, we are working in close partnership with our council partners and clients to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.

“GLL remains financially robust, but, whilst we have no customer income during lockdown we do need financial support from our partners in addition to the Government’s Job Retention Scheme (Furlough) support.

“We have asked Islington Council for financial support to help us to protect local jobs and safeguard public services, which will be in greater demand when we reopen.”

The Sobell Centre is currently being used as a food hub.

GLL added: “Our chari­table social enterprise will pay our staff their full 100 per cent salary in May. We want the council to support us to do this beyond May to prevent the burden falling on lower paid, frontline staff.”

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