Leisure centre cafes to close

The cafes will close in March
The cafes will close in March

Fife Council has announced that two of its leisure centre cafes are to close within months in a bid to ease the region’s financial woes.

Kirkcaldy Leisure Centre’s cafe and another at Leven Swimming Pool will be replaced by vending machines on March 25, with the loss of three full time equivalent jobs.

Senior manager Angus Thomson said the facilities had been operating at a loss for some time.

“This is despite a range of efforts, including changes to the opening times, menu adaptations and promotions and changes to employee rotas,” he said.

“In light of substantial financial challenges, we are unable to continue subsidising these loss-making cafes and have taken the decision to close the catering provision.”

The announcement came within days of Fife Sports and Leisure Trust claiming attendance figures at leisure centres across Fife were up.

That prompted Councillor David Alexander to query why the cafes, managed by Fife Council, were not following suit.

“We keep hearing the targeted things we are doing to get people into the pools are working,” he said.

“If more and more people are going then why are cafes having to be closed? The two things don’t tie in.”

Attendance figures at Kirkcaldy Leisure centre for the six months from April to September stood at nearly 147,000 people – a rise from 141,000 during the same time period last year.

However, when the facility opened in 2014, visitors numbers were higher at over 161,000; a figure attributed to the building’s novelty factor.

The building’s design also attracted criticism when it was unveiled to the public.

In addition to a lack of parking, visitors complained about the cafe layout, which forced customers to buy food downstairs then walk up stairs with their purchases to a separate seating area.

Councillor Neil Crooks, chairman of the Kirkcaldy Area Committee, said analysis showed many visitors who walked into the building didn’t use the cafe. “We’ve got pretty good outlets on the High Street and Tolbooth Street that people would probably choose to sit in rather than the cafe in the leisure centre,“ he said.

He added: “I don’t know if it’s a national thing. I couldn’t figure out, for example, why the Fifer restaurant didn’t make money in Fife House.”