Over 160 leisure centre memberships cancelled in Mid and East Antrim
A total of 162 members have cancelled membership of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s leisure centres, it has been stated.
The figure was revealed in a report presented to a meeting of the council on Monday evening.
In addition, 334 memberships have remained frozen with income for this month expected to be £34,000 less than pre-lockdown in March.
This month’s income from direct debits for leisure membership is expected to amount to £30,000.
Mid and East Antrim’s leisure centres reopened last month despite permission from the Northern Ireland Executive to resume business in July.
Olympic hopefuls from the borough had to travel to Bangor to continue their training until the council agreed to open swimming pools for local clubs ahead of reopening to the public on Monday.
Councillors have been advised that if usage does not “significantly increase”, restricted opening hours will continue until December. Some staff will remain on furlough until the scheme ends at the end of October. Read here
If demand remains low, it is expected that there will be “no requirement” for additional agency hours and that leisure centre closures may occur during winter months if restrictions are tightened due to the Covid pandemic.
Gym usage at Seven Towers Leisure Centre was just nine per cent in the second week of reopening, 14 per cent in Larne and 42 per cent at the Amphitheatre in Carrickfergus.
The council has been told there has been “minimal use” of agency staff during September and for October.
It is hoped that “colder weather and darker nights will see an increase in indoor leisure”.
Carrickfergus DUP Cllr Cheryl Johnston asked for a demand for classes at the Amphitheatre in Carrick to be facilitated. This was echoed by Deputy Mayor Ulster Unionist Cllr Andrew Wilson.
She said she has been contacted by a number of constituents who can’t get booked into classes and who have reported that they are “booked out”.
Larne Lough DUP Cllr Gregg McKeen warned that “in the current climate with Covid and financially”, usage is something to “keep a close eye on”.
Carrick Ulster Unionist Cllr Robin Stewart asked if subscriptions will remain the same while reduced hours apply.
Larne Lough Alliance Cllr Danny Donnelly asked about the number of downloads of a council booking app and said he agreed that opening hours should be reviewed regularly.
Ballymena TUV Cllr Matthew Armstrong warned that action is needed on leisure usage “sooner rather than later”.
“It needs an eye kept on it. It is really disappointing to see it that low in Ballymena compared to the Amphitheatre and Larne.”
Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter.