Concerns have been raised over the future viability of Hyndburn Leisure Trust after the council confirmed no more funding would be offered from 2018.
The trust, which runs sports, arts, entertainment and leisure venues across the borough, will receive a grant of £600,000 over the next 12 months from the council with reduced sums over the next few years.
Leisure boss Coun Ken Moss said they are making ‘huge investments’ across the borough to make the trust able to cope with future funding cuts.
The Trust runs facilities including Hyndburn, Mercer Hall and Norden sports centres, Wilson Athletics Track and the Town Hall.
However, Coun Marlene Haworth told last week’s full council meeting she had ‘grave concerns’ about funding given to the Trust.
She said: “I know we have to support the leisure trust, I know they provide many good things and I know we have also provided funds. But the £600,000 we are investing is not just that. We are giving them money over the next few years which will be reduced in the hope at the end of that time they will be self-sustaining.
“What happens if this fabulous gamble fails? Where is the plan B?
“I’m really worried this authority could end up with a very damp squib, no Leisure Trust and Lord knows how much money we would have invested.”
Coun Moss, who is a leisure trust board member, said it needs to grow its revenues by five per cent each year to meet the funding shortfall and said it is ‘not a massive target’.
The Town Hall ballroom has recently undergone a £750,000 refurbishment and the 2015/16 budget includes £75,000 for refurbishing playing pitches in Rishton and £340,000 Mercer Hall.
Coun Moss told the meeting: “These are investments that are designed to generate revenue and reduce the reliance on council revenue grants. It’s forward thinking and trying to prevent something happening in three or four years when the money really does run out. I am impressed with the way the board is working and the savings they have already identified.
“They are more or less half-way where they need to be already. My plan B is to constantly review it.
“This will help us address our early mortality rates and major health challenges in the borough.”
After the meeting Steve Tanti, interim chief executive of the Trust, said they ‘don’t have a crystal’ ball but are ‘confident’ of setting a balanced budget.
He said: “It’s really pleasing the council are investing in income generating initiatives. We have got a lot of hard work ahead to make savings in future years.”