Councillors in Reading will be asked to bail out a leisure centre operator which is due to redevelop two of the town’s key sites.

Reading Borough Council announced in January this year it would award a 25-year contract to Greenwich Leisure Ltd (GLL) to design, build, operate and run its leisure service.

The award was part of a £40 million investment in leisure by the authority which would see Rivermead leisure centre, built in 1988, demolished and replaced by the new modern development and a new pool built next to Palmer Park stadium.

But Reading Borough Council’s policy committee will meet tonight (Monday) to decide whether to agree its officers’ recommendation to pay GLL £410,000 so that it can continue operating the council’s leisure services following the problems caused by lockdown.

GLL had asked for £504,000 but this was negotiated down.

GLL furloughed many of its staff but continued to pay them the 20 per cent not covered by the Government scheme. Now it says it cannot continue its contract with the council, due to run until December 2022, if the authority does not fund its costs during lockdown.

The council was close to finalising the new 25-year deal with GLL, which includes the new Rivermead and Palmer Park facilities, when lockdown was imposed.

Tonight’s meeting, part of which will be in private, will also seek approval for £816,000 to fund a planning costs agreement with GLL which would allow the council to continue the redevelopment, using the existing designs, surveys and other third party work, if GLL is unable to.

Image shows the proposed new Rivermead.

© Thames Tap No 222 (powered by

Please rate this article out of five stars below. You can comment too, using the form at the bottom of the page.