Shepton Mallet Leisure Centre to close
By Laura Linham
6th Jan 2023 | Local News
Shepton Mallet Leisure Centre will close its doors at the end of this month, as a result of the Covid19 pandemic, rising energy costs and falling number of people using the facility, it has been announced.
The centre, on Charlton Road, said use of the Leisure Centre fitness suite has dropped by around 90% in two years, the number of people booking onto organised classes is now at a level where many are unviable.
Squash court bookings have also reached their lowest point for seven years and annual memberships are at a level which cannot sustain the Leisure Centre into the coming months.
"Over the past two years, the COVID pandemic, cost of living crisis and rising energy costs have led to a reduction in use of the Leisure Centre to its lowest level for many years. Despite generous support from local and national sources and a great deal of work by Whitstone School and Leisure Centre staff, it has not been possible to realise the amount of revenue necessary to ensure the sustainability of the Leisure Centre.," the statement reads.
"The variety of exercise options available in Shepton Mallet, along with financial challenges facing individuals and their families, have resulted in the use of the centre failing to raise enough money to meet the expenses associated with running the facility.
"This is despite the contributions from Whitstone School to maintain the astroturf pitch, aspects of the Centre's IT provision and site maintenance. Over the past year, considerable work has been undertaken by the Leisure Centre and School staff to seek ways of saving the provision in its entirety.
"Sadly, none have offered close to the sort of revenue required to ensure the sustainability of the Leisure Centre in its current state."
It has, however been confirmed that Whitstone School are working to ensure the astroturf, sports hall and playing fields will continue to be available to the local community.
The school also exploring potential uses for the long-term use of Leisure Centre site, including developing a new Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Unit for the region.
The news has been met with sadness - but understanding - from the local community, who expressed their shock, and support for the staff at the centre.
"So very sorry to read this, but times are hard and I completely understand," one resident wrote on Facebook. "Good luck to all the fantastic staff, up front and behind the scenes in whatever you move on to."
Another wrote: "Absolutely gutted. Not just for the staff but the whole community. I do understand the financial challenges though but it just seems so sad that this has happened."
Leisure Centre membership holders have been contacted regarding the closure of the Leisure Centre and the process by which their membership will be cancelled at the end of January.
"As we are sure you appreciate, this decision has been a difficult one and has taken some time to arrive at," the statement concludes. "In the coming weeks, please be mindful that our staff will continue to provide a professional service whilst dealing with the ongoing process of closing the Centre."