Moray Leisure facing major crisis as operating funds close to empty

Moray Leisure Centre

THE MORAY LEISURE CENTRE is running out of cash – and could be closed down inside a year, according to sources close to the management board.

Moray Council subsidise the Elgin centre to the tune of almost £700,000 each year – and only two years ago agonised over a further £250,000 they had to pay to help upgrade the centre’s Ice Rink else it would have been closed for failing to meet EU standards.

However, it is being reported that board members – which includes representation from Moray Council – have now been forced to admit there is not enough cash in reserve to legally continue trading beyond the next year.

Rising running costs and falling memberships are being blamed – with some also citing a poor relationship between senior staff and the directors. According to a report in the Press and Journal, ‘insiders’ say that costs are spiralling out of control with staff fearing for the future – one saying “it is going to be closing down by the looks of it – it simply won’t have enough money in the accounts to trade”.

Should the centre be forced into closure then its building would pass to Moray Council – although a local authority spokesman has stressed that they have no role in the management of the centre, despite three councillors, Amy Patience, Frank Brown and Walter Wilson, serving on its board.

Former board members include Moray’s MP Douglas Ross, who described the reports as “disturbing” for the staff employed at the centre, adding: “I’m all too aware of the challenges in running this facility but I have also seen the dedication of members of staff – and how much local people appreciate having a centre like it here in Moray.”

Mr Ross said that he has contacted Moray Council “to seek further information about the problems” – asking what can be done to protect the jobs and facilities should the crisis deepen.

However, one board member, Martin Gray, said that talk of closure was speculative, adding that like any business they had accountants and consultants helping them. He added: “We love the centre and want to see it continue running in whatever shape or form that it can.”

Moray Councillors will meet soon to discuss and agree their budget for the coming year – with millions in savings expected to be announced, many suspecting that spend on leisure facilities will be high on the list of those facing the axe.