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Rising global energy prices are set to increase Chelmsford City Council’s gas and electricity bill by an extra £1.1million for the coming year.
It means its total energy budget for 2022/23 will be around £2.5m – with a large part of that going to operate its leisure centres – especially its Riverside Leisure Centre and South Woodham Ferrers Leisure Centre, both of which have high energy dependent swimming pools.
The council’s gas and electricity budget in 2021/22, largely as a consequence of its provision of leisure facilities including pools and an ice rink, was £373k and for electricity £971k.
But this is set to increase dramatically.
The council budget draft report in the autumn contained provision for a 38 per cent increase in council expenditure on gas and electricity costs in 2022/23 amounting to £500k more.
But since then Chelmsford City Council has had to make room for an increased expenditure – the council has been advised that gas prices would more than likely increase by 209 per cent and electricity by 69 per cent in 2022/23.
The expected additional price increase requires a further budget provision of £600k for 2022/23 which is being used from reserves.
The council is working a number of options to mitigate its energy expenditure.
Leader of Chelmsford Council Councillor Stephen Robinson said: “Everything is being considered.
“And we were already looking at various ways at reducing energy usage across the council.
“We have invested in solar panels and things like that.
“We will be looking at all options.”
He added: “The quicker we can switch away fro fossils fuels the better, not just for the council but for the economy as a whole.”