THE reopening of leisure centres and museums across the Cotswolds is set to cost the taxpayer an additional £222,140 it was revealed at a special council meeting.

The additional funds were requested by SLM Everyone Active as a financial support package for the August to October 2020 period to reopen recreational facilities in the aftermath of Covid-19 lockdown.

SLM runs the leisure centres across the Cotswold including in Bourton and Chipping Campden that recently reopened after lockdown.

Whilst supporting the reopening of leisure facilities, the Conservative group argued that the payment should have been in the form of a loan, rather than a grant.

But the Liberal Democrat administration says the centres would not have reopened without a grant.

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During the meeting, Conservative councillor Ray Theodoulou claimed SLM had sales of more than £270m at the end of 2019/20, has a “large, geographically spread portfolio” and “it paid its directors £665,000 in salaries plus pension”.

An amendment was put forward by the Conservative group, but the concept of a loan rather than a grant was unanimously rejected.

The Conservative group say they are also concerned with the decision to waive the monthly management fee, which they say will result in Cotswold District Council losing a total of £61,411 in management fees from April 1 to October 31 2020.

The opposition group fear that CDC will not be able to reclaim this money from the government who is underwriting 75 percent of the councils lost revenue because 'CDC have in effect waived these payments'.

Councillor Richard Morgan, leader of the opposition Conservative group, said: “We supported the reopening of leisure facilities and the museum because these are well loved, well used and vital community assets.

"However, this decision represents £280,000 of taxpayers money which equates to almost six percent of CDC’s share of council tax."

Mike Evemy, deputy leader and cabinet member for finance, said at the meeting: "I would much rather be giving SLM a loan rather than a grant, wouldn't we all rather be giving with a view of getting our money back?

"But I have to say our officers have been in discussion with SLM. They don't feel they will be able to reopen the centres if we were to offer them a loan because they need to be able to repay it.

"Yes, absolutely we would love to be able to loan the money and not feel that we were effectively having to give the money to SLM to get our centres reopened and up and running for the next three months.

"That isn't the reality of the situation, the reality is that we are going to have to underwrite the running of the centres for the next three months."