Leisure centre records loss but hopes high for future

TEVIOTDALE Leisure Centre made a loss of more than a quarter of a million pounds last year.

But Border Sport and Leisure Trust (BSLT), who operate the facility, have vowed there will be no repeat of the closure threat which erupted almost two years ago.

Scottish Borders Council’s controversially commissioned report into leisure provision by consultant Kit Campbell advocated shutting the doors of the TLC – which opened just over 30 years ago.

The report revealed that the Hawick site generated the biggest deficit out of the eight centres operated by BSLT – more than £300,000.

Since then that figure has been reduced to £268,889. That includes a water and energy bill for 2011/12 of a staggering £114,000.

The centre receives £238,000 from the management fee afforded to BSLT for their eight facilities and income over the past 12 months was £538,872.

BSLT vice chairman David Ferguson told the Hawick News: “To run the business and the pool is tough and it’s getting harder, but we have never had any intention of closing Teviotdale Leisure Centre.

“Those discussions would never go very far because that is not part of our remit. Any closure would see us fail in what we’re trying to achieve and that is to keep all the facilities open.”

The number of users back in 2009 were 122,000, which has risen considerably in the last three years. Over the past 12 months there have been 150,446 people using the facilities at the TLC.

This breaks down to a seven per cent increase in junior swims compared to last year; 16 per cent increase in OAP swims; eight per cent rise in people taking part in aquafit and water activities; 11 per cent increase in swimming tuition; 17 per cent rise in membership swims; and family swims have also gone up by 15 per cent.

Outwith the pool there has been a 56 per cent increase in people exercising to music/taking fitness classes, a 16 per cent rise in gym membership and other activities; have shot up by 32 per cent.

Centre manager Stuart Holmes, who said regular visitors come from as far afield as Jedburgh and Earlston, explained that a strong emphasis has been placed on working with the community.

He said: “We’ve been heavily involved in the Vision 2014 celebrations and we’ll be supporting that for the next two years.

“The Flood Group also have a temporary building next to our premises and we help them as much as possible.

“And we have a great relationship with the Summer Festival committee. Because of the agreement reached with the indoor bowlers we can utilise that space and it’s proven very popular.”

Mr Ferguson admitted it was their intention to work with other clubs and organisations in the town to promote a healthier lifestyle.

He added: “We would like to get more people more active. I think if we can do that, through ourselves and the football, rugby, hockey and tennis clubs, then ultimately we will have more Borders youngsters performing at the highest level.”

BSLT chief executive Ewan Jackson said: “We’re pleased that we continue to make progress in reducing the deficit at Teviotdale Leisure Centre, especially considering the tough economic climate and ever increasing utility costs; what make it all the more encouraging is that we are achieving this without a reduction in the service we offer the people of Hawick and beyond.”