Moray’s largest sports centre has been given a two-year reprieve just months after it was on the brink of closure.
Councillors have backed a rescue package that will ensure the Moray Leisure Centre in Elgin can continue to operate.
Last October it emerged that running costs were “spiralling out of control” at the troubled facility and since then council’s sports and leisure trust, Highland High Life (HHL), has been managing the centre.
Yesterday a £120,000 cash lifeline won cross-party support from councillors.
The sum will be “administered” by the authority and will allow the board to request sums as and when they need them.
It has been made available on top of a fresh 12 month lease agreement for the centre – whose facilities include an ice rink, swimming pool and gym – which will cost the council £698,000.
This can be renewed on a rolling basis each month and is designed to support HHL’s four-year plan to get the facility back on its feet.
The plan was one of four options full council voted on, with just four members voting against it.
Board member Martin Gray said the decision was a major step in helping turn the ailing centre’s fortunes around.
He said: “We have got many things in the pipeline which can now go ahead thanks to this.
“Councillors obviously recognise how important this is as there’s no other facility like it in the area.
“Take our ice rink for example. If it was closed people would have to travel to Aberdeen or Inverness.
“That’s simply not practical for our figure skaters, who are in there numerous days a week, or our curling team.”
Tim Eagle, leader of the ruling administration’s Conservative group, believes the move will help the centre move towards a “brighter future”.
He said: “The council’s leisure review board are working swiftly towards putting in place a longer term strategy for its leisure provision and a thriving Moray Leisure Centre will hopefully play a role in that in the future.”
The SNP opposition, meanwhile, said the option was the only viable one going forward.
Councillor Dave Bremner, who is a member of the leisure review board, said: “It was vital that we find a positive way forward.
“While there is still a lot of work to be done by the leisure centre to deliver their recovery plan, hopefully this decision by the council will provide the level of certainty for the future that is needed to get the centre into the best possible health.”