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Meadowside Leisure Centre users give up their memberships to save money

It's causing east Staffordshire Borough Council a financial headache

Opening of the Gym on Middleway park in Burton

Gym users at Burton's Meadowside Leisure Centre are giving up their membership to save money - causing a major financial headache for East Staffordshire Borough Council.

A 20 per cent reduction in Meadowside members following the launch of The Gym Group in Middleway Park, Burton, in October has contributed to a slump in expected council income.

East Staffordshire Borough Council, which runs the gym, said its income from indoor leisure facilities, which includes the leisure centre, was now forecast to be £122,000 lower than originally budgeted.

The figures are revealed in a financial report for the authority’s Cabinet meeting which blames the reduction of income on an increase in employee costs and falling gym membership following The Gym Group opening in Burton.

Indoor leisure facilities has an annual budget of £872,000 but its projected spend is £990,000, resulting in an overspend of £118,000.

The council says one reason for this is employee costs which it says are forecast to exceed budget by £58,000.

The report says: "This is partially due to the two per cent vacancy factor built into the budget and partially due to the associated costs of increasing the wet and dry course provision.

"In addition to this, we have seen a higher turnover of staff in the last six months that has contributed to an increase in training costs for both new starters and the delivery of mandatory training for all leisure centre employees, which happens during times when the leisure centre is closed."

The Gym opened on October 9

 

The report adds: "This is partly due to VAT owing to Government relating to 2016-17 being adjusted in 2017-18 (£54,000), with the remainder impacted by a 20 per cent reduction in memberships at the Meadowside Leisure Centre, which is significantly influenced by the opening of The Gym Group in Burton."

However, it added that the pressures were partly offset by forecast savings of £56,000 in relation to premises costs such as energy and maintenance.

Despite the bad news for its leisure facilities, the report highlights that overall there is a forecast under-spend of £169,000 for the full financial year against a net budget of £10.582 million.

The report said: "Considering the extent of savings that have been built into the budget in recent years as a result of the unprecedented core funding reductions from central government, overall this is a good position at this stage of the year."

Asked to comment on the loss of membership, a council spokesman said: "The leisure market is a competitive one and the council’s leisure centre teams will be engaging in a post-Christmas campaign to attract additional members."

James Page, assistant general manager at The Gym Group said: "The Gym Group opened in October 2017. We have more than 100 gyms across the country and aim to provide affordable fitness, making exercise and healthy living accessible to all. We care about offering the right levels of support our members need and on their terms. We are open 24/7 and we offer classes and free parking. Members don't need to sign up to a contract either.

"Healthy competition is part and parcel of our industry and local commerce, ensuring the public have easy access and help with healthy living, including as many people as possible.

"The gym's aim is to help everyone get into fitness no matter what their goals and we hope that all leisure operators in Burton can work together to ensure we provide the right facilities to help people in Burton lead a healthy lifestyle."

Comparisons:

The Meadowside Leisure Centre:

The gym boasts weekly fitness classes, suitable for all abilities, taking place in the fully air conditioned dedicated aerobics studio.

The gym is available via pay as you go sessions or by Premier Fitness Membership range which also gives members access to its fitness classes.

Free access to the swimming pool if you upgrade to the Premier Plus membership which is £43 a month for an adult ia direct debit.

There is no contract, no admin fee, with single and couple membership options plus monthly or annual payment schemes all available.

All memberships include use of Uttoxeter Leisure Centre and Meadowside Leisure Centre.

The gym is open from 7.30am to 10pm Mondays to Friday, and from 8am to 6pm on Saturdays and Sundays.

Prices start from £15.35 from a senior monthly by direct debit, and are £30.70 for an adult direct debit.

Car park charges from £1 from 8am to 8pm.

The Gym Group:

Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with free parking.

It boasts high-spec equipment and free classes.

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There is also no contract.

Membership costs £13.99 a month or £5.99 for a day pass.

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