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Three-year plan for city's sports services set for approval

Published on Friday, March 2, 2018

PROPOSALS to invest more than £2million in Leicester’s leisure centres and swimming pools over the next three years are set to be approved.


City Mayor Peter Soulsby has announced plans to invest £1.8million in improving health and fitness facilities at Aylestone, Cossington and Evington leisure centres, and to replace the air conditioning units at the city’s older pools at a cost of £400,000 – underlining the city council’s commitment to retaining, and improving, its leisure centres.


Under the proposals, the bar area at Aylestone Leisure Centre will be converted into a new fitness area, while the sports hall at Cossington Sports Centre will be transformed into a 50-station gym with a dance/group exercise studio.


A new studio for dance and group exercise will be created at Evington Leisure Centre, while its existing gym will almost double in size.


And brand new air conditioning systems will be installed 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.


“Many councils around the country are taking the decision to close or privatise their leisure centres, but I believe that people in Leicester should continue to have access to good quality, affordable leisure facilities that are provided by their council,” said City Mayor Peter Soulsby.


“I’m therefore making a commitment to not only keeping our leisure centres open, but to investing more than £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, this additional income will be vital in keeping services running.”


By investing in its facilities, the council plans to attract more customers to its leisure centres – and this increased revenue will help offset the £1.5million of savings that it needs to make in its sports services budget over the next three years.


Growing demand for health and fitness provision and the popularity of dance and exercise classes suggest that there’s scope to increase user numbers by around 50% – while monitoring the use of the city council’s pools has shown that there is significant capacity to expand existing learn-to-swim programmes.


Savings will be made by amending opening hours at the city’s swimming pools – with small adjustments made to reflect local demand – and through efficiency measures across the sports services division.


Deputy City Mayor Cllr Piara Singh Clair said: “Over the next three years, we’ll be looking very carefully at everything we do in sports services, with a view to reducing our expenditure and increasing our income wherever we can.


“But we’re also going to be investing in our facilities, because people expect our leisure centres to be of a high standard – and by offering improved facilities, we’ll be able to encourage more people to use them.


“The need to make savings may require us to look at doing things differently, but we remain committed to providing the people of Leicester with access to a full range of sports and leisure activities in high-quality, well-run facilities.”


Designs and plans will now be worked up for Cossington Sports Centre and Evington Leisure Centre, with the new facilities due to open in April 2019.


Aylestone Leisure Centre will be improved as part of the second phase of works, with the new facilities expected to open in April 2020.


Works to install new air conditioning units at the city’s older pools will get under way in November 2018, with revised opening hours due to be phased in at Leicester’s swimming pools from April 2019.


Last year, the city council ran a 12-week public consultation on its proposals under the sports services review. In total, 470 people took part in the consultation, with 76% saying the council should continue to invest in health and fitness facilities.


Proposals for amending the opening hours at the city’s swimming pools were included in the consultation.


A formal decision on the investment is due to be made on 12 March.