Leisureland returns to profitability

Leisureland in Salthill has returned to profitability after years of making losses.

The City Council owned amenity, which includes a public swimming pool, was recording year-on-year losses for the best part of a decade, including losses of €680,000 in 2012.

The situation was so bad six years ago, officials at City Hall contemplated offloading the facility in Salthill to a private operator.

However, Chief Executive of the City Council, Brendan McGrath has confirmed that Leisureland passed its sink or swim test in 2017.

He told councillors that it was “heading towards a profit” this year.

It’s official accounts for 2017 record that Leisureland made a profit in 2017. That included a subvention of €120,000 from the City Council, he said.

He said that an additional €180,000 that had been set-aside last year for a subsidy for the running costs of Leisureland, would now be put into a capital fund to make improvements on the facility that was built in the 1970s.

Mr McGrath said it was an impressive turnaround, and he commended the staff of the facility, and the board members of Leisureland, including City Councillors Donal Lyons (Ind) and Pádraig Conneely (FG).

The Board of Leisureland resigned en masse in 2014 amid heightening tensions between swimming clubs, but Cllrs Lyons and Conneely were two of the elected members who remained on and insisted that the facility would remain in public ownership.

When swimming clubs deserted the facility in protest at increased charges, and then storm damage in 2013/2014 flooded the building, the very existence of the facility came under threat.

However, costs have been slashed and income increased last year, which means it’s back in the black. Swimming lessons have returned to Leisureland, which has boosted income; and Trad on the Prom moved its show there last Summer, also boosting revenue. Energy costs have halved due to the installation of a new equipment.

Cllr Donal Lyons said his and Cllr Conneely’s reasoning for remaining on the board when others resigned, was to ensure Leisureland would remain in public ownership.

“Leisureland made a profit of €20,000 last year, compared with a deficit of €113,000 in 2016. That’s why I thought it was important to mention it at Monday’s meeting. For years we took the brunt of the criticism but last year, that was a massive turnaround and this year we are expecting to break even or maybe even make a small profit. That is a result of the efforts of the City Council, the board and the staff of Leisureland,” said Cllr Lyons.

He added that further structural and maintenance works are planned to improve the facility.