Wetherby Leisure Centre: Leeds councillor says 'awful’ and ‘tiny’ facility needs investment

A “miniscule” north Leeds leisure centre with ageing changing rooms is putting local people off using it to keep fit, it’s been claimed.
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Wetherby Leisure Centre is in an “awful state”, according local ward councillor Norma Harrington, who criticised the venue’s “dingy” gym and small baby pool.

Problems with the centre were raised at a health scrutiny meeting on Tuesday, where it was revealed nearly a quarter of Leeds adults are physically inactive, or by definition, do less than 30 minutes of physical activity a week.

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Leeds City Council, which runs Wetherby Leisure Centre, said it was investing in new equipment at the venue, but conceded there were difficulties with the building’s age and location, on Lodge Lane in the town.

Problems with the centre were raised at a health scrutiny meeting. Image: LDR/GoogleProblems with the centre were raised at a health scrutiny meeting. Image: LDR/Google
Problems with the centre were raised at a health scrutiny meeting. Image: LDR/Google

Calling for more money to be spent on the facility, Councillor Harrington told the meeting: “There is one leisure centre in Wetherby, which is tiny. It’s miniscule. It has a tiny baby pool and it has one adult pool. There’s been some work done on energy efficiency which is fabulous, but the changing rooms haven’t been updated or modified for 30 years. People are actively not choosing to use Wetherby Swimming Pool because it’s in such an awful state.”

Raising concerns about accessibility at the venue, Councillor Harrington added: “Older people would love to use the gym but it’s in the basement and it’s dingy and it’s really difficult for them to access with no lift.”

Steve Baker, head of Active Leeds at the city council, said the authority had tried to make some improvements to the facility, but that the nature of the building had “limited” these.

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“We’ve looked at lots of different things to to improve access to that building,” he said. “Unfortunately the location and age of the building is fundamentally flawed in terms of how we could improve that side of things.

“You talk about the gym being down in the basement – that’s not where I’d want it to be either. We are spending some money to replace the kit and equipment in the gym and just to enhance that offer a bit. But without building something totally new it’s hard to make a huge improvement on that.”

The Labour administration’s executive member for active lifestyles, Councillor Salma Arif, promised that the leisure centre would receive more money to make improvements, but that the amount of cash the authority could spend was limited by austerity.

She added: “On a general point, 40 per cent of councils across the country are at risk of having to close their leisure centres because of financial constraints.

“In Leeds, we’re doing the opposite. We’re committed to investing in our leisure centres. But we are against a backdrop of really severe financial cuts if I may say so.”