The money has been allocated to the council through the Government's National Leisure Recovery Fund, which was set up to support the recovery of publicly-owned leisure centres and gyms.

It means that Everyone Active, which manages the Bourne Leisure Centre in Southbourne; The Grange Community and Leisure Centre in Midhurst; and Westgate Leisure Centre in Chichester on the council's behalf, can begin their preparations for reopening as part of Step Two of the national recovery roadmap.

Leisure centres and gyms will be allowed to re-open their doors to the public no earlier than 12 April for individual socially-distanced use. As part of Step Three, indoor adult group sports and exercise classes will be permitted to resume from no earlier than 17 May.

"I would like to thank the District Council officers for their work in helping to secure this much-needed funding for our leisure facilities. Leisure centres are vital to the health and wellbeing of our residents and have been hit really hard by the coronavirus crisis over the past year," says Councillor Roy Briscoe, Cabinet Member for Community, Culture and Sports at Chichester District Council. "This is a much-welcomed boost for our excellent, high quality leisure centres and I'm really looking forward to seeing them re-open over the coming months, as the roadmap allows. I'm sure that there are many people who are eager to get back to their sports and fitness routines and it will be another positive step on the road back to a more normal life.

"The services provided as part of this leisure contract will be even more important during the recovery phase, supporting communities to return to fitness, activity and mental wellbeing."

Leisure centres play an important role in helping people look after their mental and physical wellbeing, as well as being places in the local community where people can connect with others.

Public Health England reports that regular physical activity can reduce the risk of many chronic conditions, including coronary heart disease; stroke; Type 2 diabetes; cancer; obesity; mental health problems; and musculoskeletal conditions.

For more information about the reopening see Everyone Active .

Date of release: 25 March 2021

Reference: 3993