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Edinburgh Live
Edinburgh Live
Marie Sharp

East Lothian leisure bosses praised for saving jobs during pandemic

Leisure bosses have been praised for not making a single member of staff redundant during the Covid pandemic.

East Lothian councillors heard Enjoy, which runs its sports facilities, had been able to avoid redundancies since the start of the pandemic.

In its annual report on the last financial year, chief executive Bill Axon said other trusts like Enjoy across the country had been "less fortunate."

READ MORE: East Lothian nursery at centre of E-coli outbreak given 'adequate' rating

But despite not having to let any employees go during the pandemic he acknowledged the leisure trust faces staffing issues with fewer opportunities for people to train and qualify for posts at the centres during Covid.

Presenting the annual accounts to a virtual meeting of East Lothian Council's audit and governance committee today, Mr Axon revealed Enjoy had recorded a deficit of just under £36,000 in 2021 to 2022, compared to the first year of the pandemic when it saw facilities close and a loss of around £447,000.

And he said membership, which fell by a third when the pandemic hit, was back at around 93 per cent of its pre-pandemic numbers as he thanked local communities for returning to sports centres and "having confidence in Enjoy to keep them safe."

Mr Axon told the committee: "We have recovered to a point we never thought was possible. That is down to the hard work of our senior management team during lockdown.

"The fact our communities had confidence in Enjoy to safely welcome them back is something we are delighted with."

Mr Axon said while total visitor numbers to sports centres remained below the 1.2 million recorded in 2019 to 2020 at 750,000 last year, the £36,000 deficit recorded was 'small' and an 'impressive result for the trust."

The annual report revealed the total group income in 2021 to 2022 was £6.1 million (up from £5.1 million in 2020 to 2021). Pre-COVID income levels were circa £6.4 million, with the majority of the remaining difference being in membership fees that have not yet recovered fully to pre-COVID numbers.

But he said membership numbers had bounced back to 93 per cent of pre Covid figures with some people who previously used private gyms now looking at using the facilities in the cost of living crisis.

He said: "Compared to other leisure trusts in the UK, we retained or recovered a high amount of our membership base post-COVID.

"We were ahead of the average retention in the midst of the first lockdown, and continue to be grateful for our loyal customer base.

"Enjoy is uniquely positioned mid-market for the cost of living crisis and we hope that any membership we lose for those who can no longer afford a monthly direct debit can access facilities through the Access to Leisure scheme and that those who are cutting costs will join after leaving more expensive commercial gyms."

Committee chairperson Councillor Lee-Anne Menzies praised the trust's performance adding that leisure facilities were of huge benefit to people's health and mental health.

She said: "I would like to congratulate them on having no redundancies with other centres around the country running on skeleton staff including private gyms. It is a real achievement."


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