A protest against the closure of Portlaoise Leisure Centre on June 22.
The plan to reopen the Portlaoise Leisure Centre after Christmas has been welcomed by a Portlaoise council who was a member of the board of the centre before it shut last year.
Cllr Thomasina Connell has welcomed Laois County Council's plan to reopen Portlaoise Leisure Centre in early 2021. The proposal will see the Portlaoise centre run under the same umbrella as the Portarlington Leisure Centre.
Cllr Connell, a former Board Member of Portlaoise Leisure Centre, which closed as a result of financial difficulties following the Covid-19 pandemic, said in a statement that she was delighted with the headway made so far.
“I am delighted that such good progress has been made on the re-opening of the Leisure Centre in Portlaoise and very much welcome the work done by Laois County Council thus far and their efforts to move this along quickly, she commended.
“Significant repairs had to be undertaken on the Leisure Centre building and they are already underway; repairs to the roof and the floor of the Centre were necessary, in addition to repainting internally and externally. Other works are currently under investigation and will be completed as a matter of urgency, said the Fine Gael councillor.
She said the council's plan sets out a strategy that would see the Leisure Centres in Portarlington and Portlaoise merge and form one county-wide leisure facility. She added that sub-committee would be formed to oversee this merger and manage the operation of both Centres going forward.
“I commend Laois County Council’s commitment to the delivery of facilities at Portlaoise Leisure Centre which are so essential to everybody in our Community; not only in Portlaoise town and its surrounds, but across the wider County of Laois, she said.
The former General Election candidate said leisure is important.
“It is vital that these leisure facilities are recognised as having such a huge value to the physical, social and mental health of our County’s population.
“Covid-19 has brought about unforeseen challenges across the Leisure Industry and clearly gives rise to significant economic challenges but we need to recognise the broader social benefits of a publicly accessible facility, and I am glad that Laois County Council are committed to the provision of these services, Cllr Connell said.
It would have cost €300,000 just to stay open until the end of 2020 but the council declined to commit to covering the shortfall which culminated in the closure earlier this year.
The Portlaoise Leisure Centre was publicly owned but operated by a private company. The board included public representatives.