Kendal Leisure Centre is set to remain as a recovery centre to help cope with the increased pressure and demands on the health service while the coronavirus lockdown continues.

South Lakeland District Council chief executive Lawrence Conway confirmed the site is one of four in Cumbria that will remain at the beck and call of the NHS until at least July 4.

Speaking at the authority’s cabinet meeting last Thursday, the council chief and leader Giles Archibald gave an update on all services and stated that leisure centres will definitely not be returning to any sense of normality until later this summer.

He said: “The centre was established to be the best reasonable standard that could be achieved at that time, looking at the best available modelling which could cope with any additional hospital demands which may have become present.

“The current situation is that the Kendal Leisure Centre remains a recovery centre and has the capacity to accommodate 60 to 70 patients. It is the request of the NHS and Morecambe Bay Trust that the Kendal Leisure Centre continues at this time is to continue as a recovery centre. We are in discussions with the NHS with what the implications of that might be for the centre, particularly in light of the government’s plan to rebuild and its three steps.

"One step is potentially looking at leisure facilities from the 4th of July and being able to re-open as long as they are safe, and covid secure, so we are currently having negotiations with the NHS to how that facility at Kendal Leisure Centre may be handled.”

Alongside the space for 62 beds in Kendal, 90 beds are available at the Furness Academy in Barrow, and 60 each at the Sands centre in Carlisle and Whitehaven Leisure Centre, bringing the total number of additional bed space in Cumbria for Covid-19 patients to 272 with Penrith’s Leisure Centre being an additional option which remains under review.

But despite Kendal Leisure Centre being inactive as a leisure centre, the cabinet agreed to pay the management fee of up to £120,000 for the six months from April to September (quarters one and two) in line with the council plan’s aims of delivering a balanced community, reducing health inequality and not risking the failure of the service.

The meeting also received an update over the executive decision to temporarily suspend green waste collections from April 3 until May 4, when staffing levels stabilised, while Cllr Archibald confirmed the authority’s “remarkable effort” included housing all homeless people in just a few days after the government initiated the lockdown.

The meeting also heard that council tax collection is currently £540k below last year, with the districts share being £35k, but in most cases these are only deferred payments and will be recoverable at a later date.