Responding to the District Councils’ Network survey which found some leisure centres may never re-open, Cllr Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Culture, Tourism and Sport Board, said:
“Councils are deeply concerned about the future of leisure facilities which provide thousands of people and families with access to affordable gyms, swimming pools and exercise opportunities they would otherwise not have.
“Research prior to the pandemic showed that lack of funding means nearly two thirds of leisure facilities are more than 10 years old and require refurbishment.
“With the coronavirus crisis set to worsen the future outlook of leisure facilities and many older properties at immediate risk of closure, this will have a negative impact on the population’s mental and physical health.
“As we look ahead to rebuilding the nation, local leisure facilities will play a vital role in ensuring our communities remain healthy.
“We look forward to working with the Government and leisure providers to identify funding to avoid reaching a crisis point.”
Inquiry into Herts COVID Care Home Deaths – Petition
Liberal Democrats have called for an independent inquiry into the number of deaths of Hertfordshire care sector residents from COVID-19.
Lib Dem Group Leader Stephen Giles-Medhurst said “We raised grave concern at a Special County Council meeting on Wednesday about the reported high level of deaths in the care sector in Hertfordshire.
“The Lead Conservative member on Herts County Council admitted deaths were high especially in the Watford and Hertsmere areas compared to other districts in Hertfordshire. There could be a number of reasons for that but no one yet knows for sure why so it’s wrong to speculate. We need an independent review to establish all the facts.
Cllr Giles-Medhurst added “With now over 500 COVID-related deaths in the care sector reported by the county council this needs investigating. It’s 500 too many. We need to know if this number of deaths and suffering could have been avoided and how. Were all the actions needed to minimise them taken? An inquiry would help us all understand that and help us learn and put in place better protection for our vulnerable in the care sector. It will also help families understand what occurred and help in their grief and loss.”
Lib Dem Spokesperson for Adult Care, Cllr Ron Tindall, added: “There’s growing evidence our care workers were left trying to cope with patients discharged from hospital. The lack of regular testing for all residents, and care workers themselves, has left care homes unable to know who might be infectious. Care workers were not given adequate PPE and were expected to work in environments where infection control was simply inadequate to contain the virus. We need an independent inquiry to understand why so many people have died. That’s why we’ve set up the petition to support our call for an inquiry, we call on all Hertfordshire residents to sign and add their pressure to make this happen.’