Portarlington Leisure Centre at 'very high risk' of going under due to pandemic

Lynda Kiernan

Reporter:

Lynda Kiernan

Portarlington Leisure Centre at 'very high risk' of going under due to pandemic

Portarlington Leisure Centre

Covid restrictions have had a detrimental effect on the viability of Portarlington Leisure Centre with the company having gone from being in a “robust financial position” to now been at “very high risk” of folding.

Laois County Council has published a risk rating for all its associated companies this month, and the leisure centre in Portarlington is the only one out of six to be at “very high risk” in its immediate future.

The council CEO John Mulholland said it will be “a long haul back”, with hope also resting on Portarlington to take on the operation of the closed Portlaoise leisure centre and bring both back to viability.

“The company has historically been well managed. However, Covid-19 has hit the company very severely and it has suffered a significant loss in income while still subject to certain maintenance costs on the premises.
“Although closed at present, there are significant ongoing costs during closure in relation to maintenance of pool and facilties,” the report said.

Risks identified include staff layoffs, ongoing costs, a reduction in customer confidence, especially schools, additional hygiene costs, potential loss of key staff, reduced opening hours to comply with guidelines after reopening, and insurance costs.

Portarlington is the only operating public leisure centre in Laois, after the folding of Portlaoise leisure centre's company last June, two months into the pandemic over lack of money.

Talks are now underway to reopen Portlaoise under the management of Portarlington, once Covid restrictions allow.
Those talks with the chairman of the board have covered future licencing requirements, the need for support and help from Laois County Council and from the Government, and taking on the management of Portlaoise to serve the entire county.

“Discussions will continue with a view towards having a solution in place to bring both leisure centres back to full viability as soon as possible," Laois County Council's risk assessment concluded.

The centre first closed on March 12, reopening in July for a month, again in late August until mid October, and again in December, all with restrictions.