Council throw lifeline to leisure centre



Published 12/12/2012 | 12:20

KERRY County Council has pledged its long term support to Ballybunion Health and Leisure Centre by guaranteeing recently approved grant aid of €163,000 and giving an undertaking to keep the pool open for the next 10 years.

Councillors voted unanimously to back the centre at Monday's meeting of the local authority after recommendations by county manager Tom Curran, who described the current management of the leisure facility as 'exemplary.'

Mr Curran said that while he had concerns about elements of the initial business plan provided to the council by centre management after the centre was forced to close over electricity payments earlier this year, he is now satisfied with future plans and has no hesitation in recommending that the council support the venture.

Mr Curran said the leisure centre received grant aid last month of €163, 644 for the installation of a new combined Heat and Power Plant (CHP) which would save up to €40,000 in energy costs per annum.

The grant, however, was subject to a number of conditions, the first being that Kerry County Council provide an undertaking that the swimming pool remain in use for 10 years from the date of the first drawdown, or the grant aid will have to be paid on a reducing balance basis - ie €16,365 per year.

Further conditions of the grant were that the local authority must publicly support the facility and must set out a commitment to subvent this facility for the next three years, on terms to be agreed between the council and the company.

At Monday's meeting Mr Curran said that a revised business plan by the company shows that with the reduced energy costs and reasonable support from the community, the facility will be 'close to break even' in three years. He estimated that the level of financial support from Kerry County Council will be €40,000 in 2013, reducing to zero by 2016.

His recommendation that the council should approve the guarantee sought and support and promote the interests of the local community was unanimously backed by the 19 councillors present for the vote.

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