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Updated proposals to be considered for Cheshire East’s leisure services

Updated proposals for leisure services across Cheshire East are to be considered later this month and include plans to improve the facilities at some of the borough’s busiest leisure centres.

On 11 March, a report will be presented to Cheshire East Council’s environment and communities committee about how the authority’s available budget to support leisure services can be targeted to achieve the greatest outcomes for people’s health and wellbeing.

This is in the context of the council needing to secure an increased savings target in leisure services of £1.3m in 2024/25 following approval of the council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy 2024-28 (MTFS) on 27 February.

The proposals, which have been updated following the outcomes of a public consultation held last year, include:

  • Delivering an ‘invest to save’ programme of improvement works in collaboration with Everybody Health and Leisure – the charitable trust which operates leisure centres on the council’s behalf – at leisure centres where service demand is greatest and there are known capacity issues. Plans include investing in new fitness equipment at Macclesfield leisure centre, replacing the 4G pitch in Shavington and installing new changing facilities in Wilmslow. 
  • Reducing the ‘Options’ (concessionary) membership scheme discount from 25 per cent to 20 per cent in-line with other local authorities, and no longer making the discount available to people living outside of Cheshire East – there were high-levels of public support for these proposals.
  • Considering alternative ways of delivering the service and withdrawing the council’s interest in leisure centres in Middlewich and Holmes Chapel. Subject to committee’s approval, this means that the two high schools that currently have joint use of these sites can then develop new ways of operating them with support from Everybody Health and Leisure for the benefit of the local communities.
  • Extending the council’s current operational relationship with Everybody Health and Leisure to support the leisure service to be more sustainable in the longer-term, again in direct response to consultation feedback.

Councillor Mick Warren, chair of Cheshire East Council’s environment and communities committee, said:

“The council receives no permanent income stream from leisure services. 

“But the council is responsible for paying building maintenance and utilities costs – which are rising drastically – and it also invests in leisure services through the payment of an annual management fee.

“We must now look at how we can do things differently and focus the budget we do have available to us on where it will have the biggest impact, for the most people. 

“The proposals we are putting forward will ensure that leisure services can become more financially sustainable for the medium to longer-term, and that we can also continue to provide leisure centres that are modern and well-equipped.”

The report to committee also seeks approval to delegate authority to enter into ‘top up’ funding agreements with town and parish councils to safeguard leisure services in their local area. The council is not recommending the closure or part closure of any of our leisure centres.

A further report that will set out the progress in delivering the required MTFS saving for 2024/25 and outlines further proposals in order to deliver a balanced budget is expected to be presented to committee later in the year.

To read the full agenda for 11 March’s environment and communities committee, visit: 

Agenda for Environment and Communities Committee on Monday, 11th March, 2024

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