Council loan to leisure centres

TAXPAYERS in St Edmundsbury are set to loan a leisure centre firm cash to make energy efficiency improvements.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s cabinet approved a £150,000 loan to Abbeycroft Leisure at its meeting on Wednesday.

Discussions were held in private session from which the press were barred.

But a report to the meeting revealed that the five-year loan would be offered to Abbeycroft to enable ‘environmental improvements’ at the leisure centres in Bury St Edmunds and Haverhill.

The move follows an independent survey, commissioned by Abbeycroft Leisure, into its energy and water use.

“This survey has concluded that, with investment, considerable annual savings could be achieved,” said the cabinet report.

Although the work will be funded by the council, which is in turn funded by taxpayers, the council will make a return, with the loan to be offered at an interest rate which is either at two per cent above the base rate or at a flat 5 per cent, whichever is the lower.

The council owns the leisure centres and Abbeycroft manages them on the council’s behalf.

The deal will be finalised when it goes before the full council on June 19.

A spokeswoman for Abbeycroft said the move will make ‘significant savings’ on energy costs and to its carbon footprint.

The cash will pay for things like sensors to turn off lights when nobody is in the room and variable speed drives for pumps and fans so that they use less energy.

“Last year, Bury Leisure Centre was awarded Gold Level for the Suffolk Carbon Charter after reducing its emissions and environmental impacts. Haverhill Leisure Centre achieved Bronze Level.

“Abbeycroft is now looking to reduce its carbon footprint further,” said the spokeswoman.