THE operator of top Bournemouth venues such as the BIC, Pavilion and Littledown Centre is to make around 200 people redundant as the coronavirus crisis bites.

BH Live said the job losses were necessary to secure the future of the business.

It has leant heavily on the government’s furlough scheme throughout the lockdown, with no certainty about when events like live entertainment and conferences will be able to resume.

Chief executive Chris Symons said: “The impact of coronavirus has devastated many sectors and we too have had to make some really difficult decisions to secure the future of our organisation.

“Since we were required to close our centres and venues in March, we have had very little opportunity to trade and bring in the necessary income to cover our costs.

“Because of the furlough scheme, we have been able to support as many employees as possible, for as long as possible. However as the scheme is changing, and we are not able to fully return to trading at this time, job losses will be an unfortunate and regrettable reality of this pandemic.

“We have entered into a period of consultation with our employees and hope to minimise the numbers affected. But by making these changes now, we can secure the future of BH Live, and support our recovery which will enable us to continue to play a key role in the communities we serve.”

BH Live is a not-for-profit business which was set up to run the entertainment, conference and fitness venues of for the old Bournemouth council.

It later expanded to run Hampshire venues including Portsmouth’s Mountbatten Leisure Centre and Pyramids, as well as Fairfield Halls in Croydon.

As of last year, it employed around 1,485 people, many of them part-time, making the equivalent of 571 full-time posts.

BH Live’s other local venues are Altitude High Ropes Adventure at Littledown, Pelhams Park Leisure Centre, Sir David English Sports Centre, Stokewood Leisure Centre, BH Live Active at Queens Park and BH Live Active at Corfe Mullen.

In its last annual report, for the year to March 31, 2019, it recorded 4.5million visits to its venues in Dorset and Hampshire, with 35,200 members of BH Live Active.

From this month, employers with staff on the government’s furlough scheme have to pay their National Insurance and pension contributions. The scheme will stop altogether at the end of October.