New plans for Portlaoise Leisure Centre to reopen

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

Portlaoise Leisure Centre

Portlaoise Leisure Centre

Portlaoise Leisure Centre and swimming pool will be repaired and ready to open under new management by next January.
Laois County Council has announced that it is in negotiations with the board of Portarlington Leisure Centre, to amalgamate both centres as one company to make them more economically viable.
Director of Services Donal Brennan gave an update to the council meeting this Monday September 28.
He said that reopening depends on Laois being under no higher than Level 2 Covid-19 restrictions.
“We are in very strange times on our leisure centres. Portlaoise is still in the liquidation process. We have made a clear commitment to reopen Portlaoise, recognising the value for physical, social, economic and mental health of the county.
“We have received legal advice that the best way is to operate both under a common structure.
“Working towards that we have met the board of Portarlington Leisure Centre and I thank them for how well they received us. They are in a very sound financial position. We will now work to facilitate a unified structure,” he said.
Some €140,000 of repairs is underway at Portlaoise while it is closed. This includes roof repairs, floor repairs, repairs to the children's pool, fixing rising damp, repainting, fixing dressing room doors and LED retrofit lighting.
“The works will be done by mid January,” Mr Brennan said.
Portarlington also got a grant for retiling and repairs. It reopened in late August under strict Covid-19 restrictions with limited numbers allowed in for limited times.
“Until Covid is conquered or tamed, the economics of leisure centres remains uncertain,” Mr Brennan said.
Thirty staff lost their jobs at the Portlaoise centre when the board announced it was closing down last June, but fewer jobs are on offer for the near future.
“The demand will be less so the hours are less,” he said.
Both centres are owned by Laois County Council, but had been run separately as private companies with a local volunteer Board of Management. The council as owner maintains the buildings using government grants but the centres must make enough money to pay running costs including wages.
Portlaoise's board Chairman Cllr Noel Tuohy said last June that it would have cost €300,000 just to stay open until the end of 2020.