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Crawley leisure centres petition to stay open and be recognised as an essential service

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Leisure centres across Crawley are backing a petition to keep gyms open and are pushing to be recognised as an ‘essential service’ amid month-long closures due to the second lockdown.

K2 Crawley and the Bewbush Centre, managed by sports and leisure operator Everyone Active in partnership with Crawley Borough Council, had been forced to close for a prolonged period starting in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter from Everyone Active’s Managing Director, David Bibby, concerns were raised about the tougher effect on the public this time round, with shorter hours of sunlight and colder weather affecting mental health and the motivation for people to exercise outdoors.

Research by industry body ukactive shows that 58% of people managed their mental health by being active during the last lockdown, emphasising the role gyms and leisure facilities can play in providing vital sanctuaries for health and wellbeing this winter.

Following the reopening of leisure facilities in July, Everyone Active, like other providers, implemented a host of strict operational measures to ensure the utmost safety across gym, swimming, group exercise and activities to protect both customers and colleagues.

This included online booking systems to manage capacity at its centres and rigorous cleaning regimes, which it believes contributes to the low transmission rate reported across UK gyms.

However, these efforts have been met with a news of a month’s closure rather than recognition of the statistical data which reinforces the safe use of leisure centres.

Jon Hodgson, Everyone Active’s contract manager, added:

“This is an incredibly difficult time for the leisure industry and our centres in Crawley.

“We are urging our members to get behind us and to support their local centre by signing the petition to encourage the Government to keep gyms open here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/333869

“We’re so proud of all our colleagues for their hard work and dedication to providing a safe environment for our customers and can’t wait to reopen our doors once again.”

Business

‘It’s not nearly enough funding’ warns Crawley Council as business grant applications open

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Eligible businesses can now apply for the latest round of business grants but Crawley Borough Council says the funding is not nearly enough.

Despite Crawley being responsible for 25 per cent of the economic output in West Sussex, it has been given some of the lowest grant funding in the county.

The government has given the council £3,733,396 made up of:

  • £1,485,216 in Local Restrictions Support Grant to distribute to businesses that pay business rates and have had to close during the second lockdown
  • £2,248,180 in Additional Restrictions Grant, which is given to businesses that don’t pay business rates and have been affected by the lockdown but not legally required to close.

Out of seven local authorities in West Sussex, only one received less than Crawley’s combined grants figure. Five councils received more.

The Additional Restrictions Grant is based on £20 per person in Crawley rather than the number of businesses in the town. This means that Arun District Council, for example, has received £3,215,160 due to a larger population but smaller economy.

And only one council in West Sussex received less than Crawley across both rounds of grant funding in April and November. Crawley received a total of £17,167,646. The highest – Chichester District Council – received £43,739,396.

In the first round of grants earlier this year only 23 per cent of Crawley businesses received financial help from the government.

Councillor Peter Lamb, Leader of the Council, said:

“The pot of grant funding provided by the government is very limited and does not recognise the number of businesses we have in Crawley.

“The way the grant settlement is calculated – on population and not on the size of the economy – means we have to turn most businesses away, while other councils have millions to spare. This is causing major hardship at a time when Crawley is already the hardest-hit economy in the UK.”

Businesses that have had to close during the second lockdown can apply for a Local Restrictions Support Grant by visiting https://grantapproval.co.uk

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