Leisure memberships increase, but not in north Northumberland

The swimming pool at Willowburn Sports and Leisure Centre, in Alnwick.
The swimming pool at Willowburn Sports and Leisure Centre, in Alnwick.

More county residents are using leisure centres overall, according to new figures, but memberships have dropped in north Northumberland.

Active Northumberland, which manages leisure facilities on behalf of the county council, has reported a year-on-year increase in memberships since taking over.

The total number of memberships in November this year was 10,672, up from 10,566 at the same point in 2015, which translates to additional income of more than £17,500.

However, there were large increases in memberships at leisure centres where there was major investment, while many others, especially in the north of the county, saw a decrease.

Memberships more than tripled in Ashington, where Active Northumberland invested £20million into the leisure centre, while in Cramlington, where the Concordia leisure centre benefitted from £4.4million, memberships rose by 42 per cent.

But in Alnwick, memberships dropped from 1,265 to 1,109; in Rothbury, there was a decrease from 99 to 72; and in Berwick, the drop was 772 to 542.

It is also worth noting that Active Northumberland changed its pricing structure last month, so it remains to be seen what impact this may have moving forward.

Chief executive Lorraine Dewison said: “It’s fantastic to see that memberships are up overall across the county. Our new multi-site membership scheme means our members have access to leisure facilities in all areas, regardless of the centre where they initially sign up.

“Now memberships are no longer tied to individual centres, we are hopeful that the upward trend in memberships will continue to spread even further throughout the rest of Northumberland as we announce the next round of investment in services in the new year.

“Active Northumberland acknowledges that we still have a number of sites which require refurbishment or new provision.

“We are currently liaising with the council regarding exciting plans for the future of our centres and we’ll be unveiling more details very soon.”