Leicester’s City Mayor says he is committed to keeping all of the city council’s sports and leisure centres open, as he prepares to approve proposals that will see £1.8m invested in them.
The council has been consulting on the future of sports and leisure services in Leicester. In total 470 people took part in the consultation, with 76% saying the council should continue to invest in health and fitness facilities.
City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said: “There are more than two million visits made to our sports and leisure centres every year. These services are clearly valued by local people and play a vital role in health promotion.
“At a time when many councils are taking the decision to close or privatise their leisure centres, I am making a commitment to not only keeping ours open, but to invest almost £2 million to improve them.
“This capital investment in the buildings and facilities will help to bring in more customers, increase our income and offset our running costs. As Government cuts to our revenue grant become even more severe in the next two years, this additional income will be vital to keep services running”.
The bulk of the investment will be made at Evington, Aylestone, and Cossington Street leisure centres, to create more space for health and fitness activities – such as dance and spin classes – and upgrade existing gym equipment.
A proposal to convert an existing space at Braunstone Leisure Centre into a dance and fitness studio, requiring the relocation of the Sunflowers Nursery, will not go ahead.
Deputy city mayor Cllr Piara Singh Clair said: “The consultation showed us that removing the nursery from Braunstone Leisure Centre would have a detrimental impact on local child care provision.
“We have therefore decided not to go ahead with the proposal in its current form, but will look instead at other ways of extending the leisure centre to improve fitness facilities, including the possibility of obtaining external funding.”
Proposals set to be approved include converting the under-used bar area at Aylestone Leisure Centre into a new fitness area, and transforming the sports hall at Cossington Sports Centre into a 50-station gym with dance studio.
A new dance studio will be created at Evington Leisure Centre, while its existing gym will almost double in size.
Other changes will include the installation of brand new air conditioning systems in the city’s pools at Aylestone, Cossington, Evington, Leicester Leys, New Parks and Spence Street, making the environment much more pleasant for swimmers, spectators and staff. And opening hours at all pools will be revised to reflect local demand.
Reducing pool opening hours at off-peak times at smaller pools will help the city council find the £1.5 million of savings it needs to make in the cost of running its sports services over the next three years. Opening hours will be extended, or remain largely the same, at the larger pools.
The full results of the consultation and final proposals will be reported to the heritage, culture, leisure and sports scrutiny commission next week (Jan 9), before the City Mayor takes a final decision.