NEARLY 100 jobs could be cut across Braintree district leisure centres due to the financial impact of the coronavirus crisis.

Fusion Lifestyle has informed its staff it is beginning a consultation over proposals for 98 redundancies at its four centres in Halstead, Braintree and Witham.

The announcement was made in an email seen by the Times last week which states Fusion is proposing to change its staffing model in response to the pandemic.

It states the redundancies will be made because of the reduced services on offer at the leisure centres due to social distancing and health advice in relation to Covid-19.

The announcement was made before the Government gave the green light for gyms and leisure centres to re-open on July 25.

However, the email sent to staff says the expected drop in income due to membership cancellations and reduced services means finances will not improve even when the leisure centres re-open.

It adds: “The journey to recovery for Fusion, the leisure sector and the wider economy looks like it will last well into 2021 at the very least.

“We are therefore forced to consider redundancies throughout the business in response to this, in order to re-organise our workforce to meet the decreased demand, reduce our operating costs and survive the crisis.”

Fusion has confirmed discussions are taking place with staff about the company’s future and possible changes.

The firm also says it will re-open its leisure centres when it is safe to do so.

A spokesman said: “It is important to make clear that the raft of guidance all leisure centres will need to follow will mean that our customers’ experience of using our gyms, pools and facilities will be very different compared to life before Covid-19.

“Our priority is to adapt our facilities to make sure we can offer customers a safe way to stay active.

“Nationally, leisure industry leaders are anticipating a big reduction in footfall and we may need to make changes to staffing levels while also finding new ways of working.

“We are currently in consultation with our staff to take on board their views and ideas on how we can remain sustainable.”

News of the possible job losses comes in the same week Braintree Council opted to give Fusion Lifestyle £111,600 to help cover some of its costs in May and June.

It means the authority has now given Fusion £167,400 since leisure centres were forced to close in March to slow the spread of coronavirus.

Finance boss David Bebb said: “As you can imagine, all leisure centres have been significantly hit by the pandemic.

"The financial issues impacting leisure provision here in our district are no different to those affecting providers up and down the country.

"Leisure providers have fallen between the cracks of central government support packages, so where we can, we have supported Fusion with financial relief.

"Leisure centres are an important part of the community offering services which improve our physical and mental wellbeing."