- Ashton leisure centre, Ashton-under-Lyne
THREE Tameside fitness facilities – including Ashton-under-Lyne’s much-used swimming baths – are to close.
Active Tameside, which runs the services, has announced the doors will shut in Ashton and at Longdendale and Broadbottom.
It says costs rising to more than £2 million a year have forced their hand after Tameside Council was unable to help.
Rumours about the future of Active Tameside have been circulating for some time, now this decision calls its operation of other venues into question, although it insists its other eight facilities will stay open.
In a statement, the trust explained: “Over the course of the last 18 months, the significant financial changes in our national economy have ravaged our financial capacity to remain financially viable as an organisation.
“Current national research shows that energy bills for the sector have increased between 150 per cent to 200 per cent compared to 2021, due to the high energy consumption of swimming pools and sports complexes.
- Etherow Centre
“In cash terms this has taken our utilities spend up to £2million per annum. All additional related products such as chemicals, insurances and people costs have in turn seen dramatic rises, exacerbating the financial situation faced by the Trust.”
Active Tameside admitted money troubles meant its existence was in doubt last year.
But after reserves were raided to keep going and the council, which has its own financial issues, could not help – with vastly raising prices not an option – the decision was taken to axe three.
As a result, Active Etherow will close on Friday, September 1 and Active Ashton and Adventure Longdendale on Sunday, September 3.
Active Tameside added: “As a provider of predominantly discretionary public services for all, our ability to simply charge our customers significantly more for their activities is not an option.
“Doubling the price for a swim would have a significant impact on attendances and in turn the health of our community.
“Last financial year, the company held reserves which ultimately allowed us to continue trading, but unfortunately these have now depleted.
“We find ourselves in a place where the options to remain financially viable without significant change is not feasible.
“Our key stakeholder, Tameside Council, although highly sympathetic to our plight again faces its own challenges and unfortunately any additional financial support cannot be offered.
“As an organisation, a series of options to reduce costs and maximise income have been created and are currently being implemented.
“Unfortunately, due to the amount required it is with deep regret that we must announce the closures of three of our sites; Active Ashton, Adventure Longdendale and Active Etherow.
“The sites have been selected on their current levels of subsidy and the physical fabric of the site, has also been considered.
“We understand this will have a significant impact on our community but unfortunately all possible cost cutting measures have already been taken, this is the only option to secure the future of our other eight centres and facilities.
“Rest assured we have a plan in place to relocate all our affected staff, service users and clubs where possible over the coming weeks.
“All members and service users of the centres will receive further updates on membership status and swimming lesson status imminently.
“It is with deep regret that we must announce these closures and we hope you understand the reasons behind why we have had to make these difficult decisions.”
A statement from Tameside Council can be read here: https://www.tamesidecorrespondent.co.uk/2023/07/03/council-seeks-assurances-from-active-tameside/