Leisure Centre opening hours to decrease...

THE District Council has taken a decision to reduce the opening hours of Banbridge Leisure Centre, it has announced.

But it has increased the opening times at it’s main leisure facilities in Dromore and Rathfriland

The council says that these measures have been taken as, while it is committed to promoting the health and wellbeing of the local people, it wants to keep the running and staffing costs of all leisure facilities down so that they do not place an excessive and unnecessary financial burden on local ratepayers.

Banbridge Leisure Centre will open at 7am as usual but close an hour earlier at 10pm Monday to Friday. Its weekend opening hours will remain unchanged.

Dromore Community Centre will open half an hour earlier at 8.30am Monday to Friday and close at the usual time of 10pm. There will be no change to its Saturday opening hours.

Rathfriland Community Centre, which currently opens at irregular times during the week, will open from 12 noon to 10pm Monday to Friday. This will mean that this facility will be open for an extra eight and a half hours each week. And should organised groups, clubs and societies want to use the facility before noon on a weekday, it can be made available provided prior arrangements have been made. The centre will remain closed on Saturdays and Sundays.

The opening hours at all other leisure sites will remain unchanged and the changes come into effect from April 1, 2012.

Commenting on the revised opening hours, Ben Corr, Head of Leisure Services, said: “Our leisure facilities have always been subsidised by rates income but in the current climate it is essential to ensure they are run as efficiently as possible so that they are not a drain on limited council funds. Therefore, it is important that our leisure facilities are open at times when there is sufficient demand.

“Since 2009 our leisure facilities have experienced an increase in usage of 14%. We welcome this very positive development and are keen to maintain this trend when considering the benefits that being active brings to the wider community.”

The council added in a statement that it will also continue to assess the opening hours of all leisure facilities and where sufficient demand can be established, a future change to the new opening hours will be considered.