LEISURE centres across southern Oxfordshire, including one in Abingdon, have been offered a much-needed funding boost ahead of their big reopening day expected in less than two weeks.

The leisure industry has been hit hard during the Covid-19 crisis having spent much of the last year closed or running to a very limited capacity.

This is why Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire district councils have agreed to offer a financial support package to GLL, otherwise known as Better, the leisure contractor that manages the facilities across both districts.

ALSO READ: Golf club employee tests positive for Covid as 400 people flock to grounds

Outdoor sports were already given the green light to resume work from Monday as part of Step One of the Government's roadmap out of lockdown, but indoor facilities will have to wait until Monday, April 12.

But North Abingdon councillor Emily Smith advised that some centres like the White Horse Leisure and Tennis Centre on Audlett Drive are holding off from reopening their outdoor swimming pools because it is 'super expensive', even though current pandemic restrictions allow this.

It is still unclear how much money has been offered to Better, and how much the White Horse centre will receive.

In the meantime, the Abingdon facility has launched a variety of outdoor fitness classes like HIIT, circuit training, zumba and functional fitness.

These are available from Monday to Saturday, and people can book via the Better UK app.

Councillor Helen Pighills, cabinet member for healthy communities at Vale of White Horse District Council commented on the finacial boost announced late last week: “Ensuring residents have access to facilities and opportunities to stay healthy and active is a priority for the council.

ALSO READ: Police 'increasingly concerned' for missing Oxford Brookes student

"This sector has been hard hit financially because of the pandemic and I am very pleased that the council has been able to agree a package to keep our leisure facilities operating.

Ms Pighills, who is also the councillor for the Abingdon Abbey Northcourt ward, promised to continue to push the Government for additional financial support for the leisure industry to ensure long-term sustainable operation for facilities across the Vale.

The two councils are now continuing to work alongside GLL to plan for the safe reopening of the districts' leisure facilities in the coming weeks and months.

Most fitnesses and leisure centres have been closed since January 4 at least because of Government restrictions and some residents' patience is wearing thinner and thinner.

Frilford Heath Golf Club, near Abingdon, for example, welcomed back more than 400 eager-to-play members on its first day.

Managing director Russell Stebbings commented on the long-awaited reopening on Monday: "We are delighted to re-open our gates today.

ALSO READ: Police hunting for THIS man after string of shed thefts

"Due to high demand, we are members-only today, prioritising our members who have supported the club so much over the last twelve months.

"It has been 12 weeks since they last enjoyed golf at the club, and we are pleased that we have over 400 golfers enjoying the club safely today.

"Every player is checked in and is playing in a group of no more than four players, as is standard in golf.

"There are absolutely no large gatherings happening at the club, just a smooth flow of golfers spaced out as per England Golf and Government guidelines."