Leisure centre in plans to cut hours

Review: Coun Tom Burns
Review: Coun Tom Burns
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Opening hours at a Preston leisure centre could be slashed in a bid to save cash.

City council chiefs have revealed that they are looking at shutting Fulwood Leisure Centre earlier at weekends in an attempt to shave £29,000 off the running costs.

Prices for leisure services at its two leisure centres are also set to rise, by an average of around four per cent, but councillors say they will still be comparable other local authorities’ current rates. In response to a question at a full council meeting, Coun Tom Burns, cabinet member for culture and leisure, revealed Fulwood may close earlier on Saturday and Sunday evenings, after research showed fewer than 120 people were using it at it at these times.

He said: “We have been reviewing leisure centres for the last 18 months. We are looking at it in a very positive way to keep all the facilities going - our leisure centres are excellent. We are looking at reducing hours on Saturdays and Sundays when we have got fewer users.”

Coun Burns said leisure centre visitors would be consulted on the planned changes to opening hours.

He added West View Leisure Centre in Ribbleton was not affected by the plans, as it is well-used by groups with disabilities at these times.

The news came shortly after an announcement in the chamber that Preston Council’s sports and health development team had achieved a 99 per cent score in an assessment by Quest, an organisation which assesses leisure management for Sport England.

Councillors also discussed another move to close down back offices in the Town Hall today and for the next eight weeks, to help cut carbon emissions and avoid a ‘carbon tax’ of £90,000 a year.

The plan is for staff affected to work from home, take annual leave or ‘hot desk’ in other offices on Fridays.

Lea Coun Christine Abram asked for reassurance workers would not be forced to take holidays if they could not make childcare arrangements.

Chief executive Lorraine Norris said desks would be available to those in need of them. She added: “The town hall will be open to the public, with the ground floor opening as normal. This is something I am proud to say staff have embraced.”