Big fall in attendances at Flintshire leisure centres

Reporter:

Matt Jones

CALLS for an investigation have been made after leisure centres across Flintshire recorded massive fall in users.

Deeside, Flint and Connah’s Quay collectively saw 125,000 fewer visits in 2009-10 than in the previous year.

Calls have now been made for an investigation and extra funding to be given to centres to combat the drop.

Flint Castle ward councillor Ian Roberts described the fall as ‘massive’ and said the situation needed to be investigated.

He said: “A drop in attendance of more than 125,000 in a year, 10,000 a month, that to me starts more than alarm bells ringing.

“Why has this happened in Flint and Deeside and why did it not happen in Mold? What are the factors? Any organisation that has taken a 20 per cent drop needs to explore what is going on.”

With strong competition from modern private gyms, Cllr Tony Sharps, deputy leader of Flintshire Council, called for a review of each of the council’s nine leisure centres and an increase in funding.

He said: “The figures are surprising. I think all the leisure centres have to be looked at individually and individually tailored for people’s needs.

“I think the council has got to find extra resources to modernise so they can compete with private centres.”

A council report shows visits to Flint Pavilion down 20 per cent and Deeside down 10 per cent but visits to Mold, Holywell, Hope and Saltney all showed a slight increase.

Cllr Dennis Hutchinson, executive member for leisure and health and safety, said: “There are reasons. With the severe weather conditions leisure centres were closed or restricted in the number of people attending, that has had an impact, there is no doubt about that.

“There has been something of a downturn at Deeside Leisure centre, in the ice rink particularly, but we expect the figures to improve.

“In Mold and Buckley people are using them and still using them well.”

At Deeside Leisure Centre six new five-a-side football pitches are due to be installed later in the year and Cllr Hutchinson said he would expect the pitches to attract more users.

Mike Hornby, head of leisure services at Flintshire Council, said: “A number of factors affected usage of council leisure centres between April, 2009 and March, 2010.

“For instance the swimming pool in Flint was closed for six weeks between April and May for refurbishment and we experienced the worst winter weather for many years in January and February which affected attendance levels at most of our leisure centres, including Deeside Leisure Centre and especially the ice rink.

“Our records show that during the first two months of this financial year usage levels are up across all our leisure centres and we will closely monitor the levels for the rest of the year to establish if any clear trend emerges.”

See full story in the Leader

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