Councillors have agreed another financial support package capped at £291,146 to support leisure centres in the district and the Corinium Museum.

The new financial package will guarantee these facilities will remain open until at least March 2021. The proposal was unanimously supported by all councillors on Wednesday night (October 21).

The latest financial support package is the second additional payment made available to SLM Everyone Active after the council agreed to give the private company a grant of £222,140 in August so it could operate throughout the August to October period.

At the time, the Liberal Democrat administration was heavily criticised by the opposition Conservative group for awarding SLM a grant rather than a loan.

However, the Conservative group has welcomed news that the administration had this time negotiated a profit share mechanism for the second financial support package, meaning the council are now entitled to take a 75 per cent share of profits until the £291,146 is paid back.

During the meeting, both parties discussed a plan B on the future of the leisure centres, so the council were not left in a continuous perpetual circle of having to bail out the private company in order to keep their leisure facilities and museum open.

As a result, it was agreed that a cross party group would be set up to look at alternative options which could possibly include taking the management of these facilities back in house or finding alternative operators.

Cllr Richard Morgan, Leader of the Opposition Conservative Group said: “We are relieved and grateful the Lib Dems have taken notice of our objections to the original grant back in August, and have now negotiated a 75 per cent profit share on the second financial support package which means Cotswold residents may have some chance of getting some of their money back.”

“We totally support keeping our leisure centres and museum open, and we would like to thank SLM who have been good, long term strategic partners of this council since 2013.

"However, as a council we need to get in front of this issue and prepare a plan B so we have leverage and alternatives in place and ready for February when SLM may potentially come back to us and request more taxpayer money.

"For this reason, I would again like to thank the Lib Dems for agreeing to set up a cross party working group ASAP to research and consider the councils best options”.

Cotswold District Council Cllr Jenny Forde said: "A decade of central government spending cuts has forced councils to be imaginative and entrepreneurial in how we sustain local services that people value.

"I'm glad that the Conservatives have now indicated they support our direction of travel and will now work with us on a cross-party basis to ensure the viability of our museum and leisure centre services.

"I know how grateful our residents are that we have managed to keep all our centres and our museum open during this difficult time."

The financial package requested by SLM was smaller than originally requested, because the Corinium Museum in Cirencester has received a lifeline grant worth £121,000 as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF).