Work on repair backlog at South Ribble's leisure centres to get going

More than £2m is set to be spent on maintenance to keep South Ribble’s three leisure centres functioning.

A backlog of repair and upkeep work was uncovered more than three years ago, but South Ribble Borough Council was at the time considering a new leisure campus site to replace one or more of its existing facilities. However, the future of that project is now uncertain after it was beset by spiralling costs.

The leisure centre in Bamber Bridge will get the lion's share of the cash, but there will also be investment in Leyland, Penwortham and the borough's tennis centre

The leisure centre in Bamber Bridge will get the lion's share of the cash, but there will also be investment in Leyland, Penwortham and the borough's tennis centre

A report presented to cabinet members revealed that it would not be possible to carry out “every single piece of work” that the sites in Leyland, Bamber Bridge and Penwortham require - because that would more than double the bill to around £5m.

Instead, the authority has drawn up a priority list of repairs relating to health and safety, as well as some general enhancements.

The work will be carried out over the next two years, but the programme could change depending on the outcome of a masterplan being designed for leisure provision in the borough.

“Whatever happens with the leisure campus, it’s not likely to come forward for the next three to five years,” said cabinet member for health and wellbeing, Mick Titherington.

“So it’s important we keep our leisure centres fit for use by the public.”

It emerged in the autumn that the price tag for the proposed leisure campus - complete with eight-lane swimming pool and four-court sports hall - had increased from £15m to £24m. The viability of the project is now being assessed as part of the masterplan process.

Air ventilation units will suck up up the largest share of the £2.5m of maintenance cash approved by cabinet - costing £1.3m across the three sites. They are the only investment planned for the Leyland leisure centre.

But Bamber Bridge - which is in line for the largest investment overall - will also have its reception refurbished and roof repaired. Similar work is planned for Penwortham, along with the resurfacing of its sports hall floor.

Meanwhile, the Bamber Bridge Tennis Centre will get a car park extension and, if funds allow, a new rubber floor-coated finish for its courts.

The council is proposing to extend its contract with Serco to operate South Ribble's leisure facilities - beyond the current end date of March 2021 - in order to cover the period of planned works.

Cabinet approved the maintenance investment plan - £400,000 of which had already been committed by a previous capital programme. The funding will have to be approved by full council at next month’s budget.