Sports centre in line for cash boost

Salt Ayre Sports Centre, Lancaster.
Salt Ayre Sports Centre, Lancaster.

A gym refurbishment, a new spa and an outdoor ropes course are among ideas being mooted for the future of a Lancaster sports centre.

Salt Ayre could be in line for a cash injection after surviving a potential cull of Lancaster City Council-run services.

The council may look to find a development partner to invest in the centre on Doris Henderson Way and improve its facilities.

This partner would be asked to come up with a plan to get more people through the centre’s doors and make Salt Ayre “a premier sport and leisure facility in the North West”, says a council report.

Council officers have put the idea of a development partner on the table after seeing a similar system in action in other leisure centres around the UK.

The council would still run Salt Ayre. A partner would come up with ideas for new projects and manage them, give expertise in key areas, as well as help with marketing, advertising and promotion.

Use of Salt Ayre sports hall has been hit by a decline in popularity of badminton, netball, volleyball and five-a-side football, claims the report.

Salt Ayre Reflexions fitness suite opened in 1997 with more than 1,400 members but numbers have declined to around 900.

The outdoor artificial pitch, which is hired out for use, raised around £25,000 per year when it first opened but now fetches less than £6,000 per year.

Salt Ayre was thought to be under threat after an across-the-board review of council-run services prior to its 2014/15 budget.

Instead, the report says, a “staffing restructure” at the centre saved the council £118,000 and it decided to continue to run Salt Ayre.

Lancaster City Council cabinet will meet for talks on the issue at Morecambe Town Hall on January 20.