Two North East leisure centres are set to receive a cut of an over £4m grant following council approval. 

Dunston Leisure Centre and Blaydon Leisure and Primary Care Centre will jointly receive just over £3m to install low-carbon heat pumps. According to council documents, the cash will help the centres become more energy-efficient and viable in the longer term.

Dunston and Blaydon pools are the two largest gas users of the local authority, accounting for 10% of total gas demand.

The remaining £1.2m of the grant from the Public Centre Decarbonisation Scheme was intended to go to Birtley Swimming Centre. 

Birtley Swimming Centre was closed by Gateshead Council in July 2023, alongside Gateshead Leisure Centre in Saltwell, due to budget cuts amid huge public outcry. Since then, the Birtley Community Aquatics Centre (BC has been working to get the pool back up and running. 

However, the Birtley pool could not take on the grant because the Aquatic Centre’s priority, according to council documents, is to replace the existing boiler in the pool which would “invalidate” the funding offer.

In addition, the risks associated with taking on a £1.2m construction feat, including the potential of cost increases, were dubbed “too great”. 

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The council is now exploring whether that £1.2m can be redistributed to Blaydon or Dunston pools or could fund low-carbon heating installations in other council facilities. 

Coun Kevin Dodds, present at the cabinet approval of the funding today, said: “Speaking for myself, we have gone through a tremendously difficult period in leisure facilities because of the enormous cuts we have had since the start of austerity.

"We have desperately tried to retain non-statutory services for people but it has been an uphill struggle.  “Our demand has increased but our resources have decreased. Being able to secure some form of funding is always a pleasure because we want to provide the best services.”