‘More staff than customers’: Questions over gym opening hours amid council cuts

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The Conservative MP has questioned the council’s cost-cutting methods which will see leisure centres in Abergavenny, Caldicot, Chepstow and Monmouth close an hour and a half earlier on the weekend.

From April, the gyms will close at 9.30pm on weekdays and 4.30pm on Saturdays and Saturdays, instead of 10pm and 6pm.

Monmouthshire County Council told the Argus gym usage was “much lower” at the later times.

“The justification being put forward by the council is there are more staff on site than customers at these times,” said Mr Davies.

“That may partly be true because people tend to drift off and leave a little bit before closing time, so it will obviously be less busy towards the end of a session.

READ MORE: ‘Data supports early closing for leisure centres’ councillors told

“However, I use the leisure centres quite often and have seen people there late at night right up until facilities close.

South Wales Argus: Monmouthshire council says the gyms are less busy later onMonmouthshire council says the gyms are less busy later on (Image: Newsquest)

“I have also noticed and welcomed an increase in the number of young people using the gym, particularly at weekends,” the Welsh secretary added.

“It is great they are doing something healthy with their time and there is a definite upsurge in fitness among the younger generations.”

Mr Davies, who used to be known as the “Tory Tornado” in his amateur boxing days, also said swimming clubs in Chepstow were worried their weekly sessions would no longer be economically viable.

“The council should think again and look at other ways of saving this money,” he said.

‘Essential’

A spokesperson for the council said: “Monmouthshire County Council understands that these facilities are essential to all our members.

“All clubs impacted by the new opening hours have been contacted, and alternative arrangements have been made for those affiliated with local sports clubs and organisations.

“The changes were set out in our Budget Consultation Proposals, allowing customers to respond in January and February. The consultation outcome showed that 51.1 per cent of people supported these changes.

“All our Leisure Centres advertised the consultation and directed customers to fill out the survey if they had any concerns about any changes to the opening times.

“No decision was taken lightly, and the data shows that usage was much lower at those times. The Leisure Centre will continue to work with all members and users.”

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