OXFORD's city council has endorsed a campaign for £800m of government funding for leisure centres.

The #SaveLeisure campaign is calling for funding of around £800m to overcome the financial impact of the Covid-19 lockdown, as this is the total shortfall public leisure providers across England have estimated they are facing in the 2020-21 financial year.

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Without this funding, industry body Community Leisure UK estimate that 48 per cent of all public leisure facilities across the country face closure, meaning the loss of 1,300 centres by the end of the year, along with more than 58,000 jobs.

The first of Oxford’s public leisure centres begin reopening from 3 August, but the council’s leisure partner Fusion Lifestyle are still working to develop a viable plan for how and when our other sites can reopen.

Writing to the Government, Linda Smith, the city council cabinet member for leisure and parks, said Oxford faces 'prohibitive' costs of reopening, with an extra £1 million needed to open the city's leisure centres until March 2021.

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The Government launched its new Better Health campaign last week to encourage people to get fitter and lose weight as one of the ways to protect themselves from coronavirus, and the city council thinks supporting leisure centres could help with this.

Councillor Smith said: "Public leisure centres are often in the most deprived areas, where there is no affordable alternative. We want to see the Government backing its Better Health campaign with financial support for the public leisure sector.”