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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Ageing and ‘tiny’ leisure centre to get new investment as council targets new members

A leisure centre derided for its “awful state” is getting a six-figure investment, in the hope it will draw 200 new members every year.

Wetherby Leisure Centre was recently described as “tiny and miniscule” by local councillor Norma Harrington, who told a scrutiny committee that the venue’s changing rooms had not been “updated in 30 years”.

Councillor Harrington, who also criticised the centre’s gym for being “dingy”, said people in the town were avoiding the venue, “because it’s in such an awful state”.

Now Leeds City Council has announced it’s ploughing more than £124,000 into the facility, which will be spent on new gym equipment.

In an online report detailing the investment, the council said Wetherby was one of few local leisure centres where visitor numbers hadn’t returned to 2019 levels, with memberships down 20 per cent  since the pandemic.

The local authority says it hopes the cash will help bring membership numbers at the site back to pre-Covid levels and then attract an extra 200 new members every year.

The report said: “Achieving this target is dependent on providing a better user experience to attract more customers into the facility and to help recover membership/income levels following the pandemic.

“Existing gym equipment is over 15 years old and no longer meets the needs of users. The (council’s leisure) service has been fortunate to invest in new equipment for the gyms across the estate, with Wetherby being one of the last remaining sites to benefit from new equipment and refurbishment.

“The gym is to be refurbished with new flooring, decoration, and branding, with the intention to drive the customer experience.”

The report said that Wetherby has “higher than average” numbers of reported mental health issues, with social isolation among the town’s older population thought to be one significant factor behind this.

Given the well-versed link between exercise and good mental wellbeing, the council suggested improving the leisure centre was vital.

The report added: “It is essential that Wetherby Leisure Centre provides a quality facility for the local community, supporting the community in engaging in physical activity and investing in their health, wellbeing and improving social connectivity.”

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