Lewisham’s new two-year leisure contract with Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) cost £1.4 million, according to its latest financial monitoring report.

Up until August, the borough’s leisure facilities were managed on behalf of the council by two contractors, 1Life for the Downham Health and Leisure Centre and Fusion Lifestyle for the rest.

The council cut ties with Fusion in the wake of “significant financial challenges” caused by lockdown.

According to the council, reports about Fusion were not positive.

“We had very negative feedback from residents with the Fusion contract.

“Once leisure centres are up and running, from what we’ve heard from other boroughs, I feel a lot more positive about GLL,” Lewisham’s mayor Damien Egan said.

After the two years, he said the council could look at moving the leisure contracts “in-house”.

“The GLL contract is only a two-year contract.

“Our preference is to always have in-house provision of services, but with the budget conditions that we’re under now [it’s] not something that we can look at.

“We will look at it in two years, but it also gives us the chance to review GLL’s performance as well.”

The decision to award the contract to GLL, which operates under the brand ‘Better’, was made under urgency procedures on August 12 behind closed doors.

The borough’s leisure facilities were due to start reopening this month, though that has been postponed because of the second national lockdown.

According to the financial monitoring report, the leisure management budget is expected to overspend by £2.1m, more than half of which is down to the new contract.

Emergency contract payments of about £420,000 were also made to Fusion and 1-Life, while income was lost in the wake of the pandemic.

The £420,000 was for “costs incurred during lockdown”, when all leisure centres had to close.

“This included statutory compliance checks, health and safety, security, utilities etc that needed to be carried in order to maintain the centres and prevent them from closing,” a council spokesperson said.