- By Christian Fuller
- BBC news
A leisure center operator has ceased operations because it was unable to pay its March bills.
As a result, the Sevenoaks and Edenbridge leisure centers in Kent will have to close with immediate effect.
Sevenoaks District Council has stated its commitment to the future of the sites after their operator, Sencio Community Leisure, engaged an insolvency firm and ceased operations.
A councilor said the closure came as a “terrible shock”.
Lullingstone Park golf course will also close.
Sencio employed 28 full-time employees, 46 part-time employees and 107 temporary employees.
In a statement, the company’s board of trustees said the financial challenges had become “insurmountable”.
“This is a combination of the effects of Covid, rising energy prices, a winter that has not been favorable to golf revenues and increased competition – all of which have conspired against us,” it said.
“We have repeatedly strived to get the company back on a safe financial footing. We are sorry to say that this has not been possible.”
The cabinet member of the council for people and places, Lesley Dyball, said it had “done everything possible” to support Sencio in the recent economic challenges.
“It is disappointing that Sencio is in this position despite receiving almost £1.4m of public money, including £411,000 from the council to help them through the lockdowns and support business recovery “, she said.
“In January 2023, Sencio told our councilors that they had weathered the recent economic challenges with Covid and the cost of living and were looking to the future.”
Sencio, which has been operating as a leisure fund in the Sevenoaks district for nearly 20 years, has appointed Evelyn Partners to assist with the insolvency process.
The council is “100% committed” to reopening the closed sites, Ms Dyball said.
“This sad news came as a terrible shock to us, who have worked with Sencio for almost 20 years,” she said.
“We understand that this must be an anxious time for Sencio employees, customers and suppliers.”