The leader of Brentwood Borough Council, Chris Hossack, has issued the following statement tonight in relation to the closing of the Brentwood Centre earlier this week:
“As we are aware the Brentwood Leisure Trust (BLT) closed the Brentwood Centre and six halls on Tuesday evening, making it’s staff redundant. This happened suddenly as the BLT realised it could not meet it’s payroll obligations for October.
“As of this weekend BLT as leaseholder, still has not returned the keys in a formal sense, to the owner of the property and that is the council. Furthermore the BLT will not be holding its meeting to go into liquidation until Friday November 6 – some 10 days after closing the doors. This means that the Insolvency Practitioner cannot formally be appointed until this meeting takes place.
“I am disappointed with this lack of urgency being displayed by the BLT, as it effects not only the residents who want to use the facilities but also the small businesses that depend on the centre and halls being open.
“Despite this, the council is progressing its contingency planning with an interim operator to get the centre back up and running. A mobilisation meeting is already planned for Monday and we will proceed to progress plans under the rights we have as landlord.
“Our plan, even in the event the trust folded, which it has, was always to get the centre and halls re-opened again asap.
“However, following the Prime Minister’s statement this evening it has become apparent that leisure centres will now close across England as part of the new lockdown measures that will come into effect on Thursday November 5 for at least a month. These circumstances are of course beyond our control.
“Notwithstanding the council will continue to make preparations at pace, so that when the halls and centre can re-open again we are ready to do so.
“I am also conscious that the situation is fluid and that there is pressure on the Government to consider facilities such as the Brentwood Centre as ‘essential’ given the vital contribution it makes to physical and mental well-being. So we must be prepared if circumstances change.
“The centre will re-open again under new management as planned and when permissible.”