At the December 2021 Trafford Council Executive meeting, the council agreed to move to new stages in its plan to refurbish Altrincham, Sale and Stretford leisure centres. The decision is a reversal of a 2018 decision to build new leisure centres in Altrincham and Stretford at a cost of circa £46m. The council had also previously agreed to bring forward a business case for capital funding relating to the development of Sale Leisure Centre.
The council had already agreed in February 2021 to invest £9m into its capital programme to cover essential works across the Council’s leisure estate, and to cover costs of developing a business case for the refurbishment of Altrincham, Sale and Stretford Leisure Centres. The cost of the refurbishments will be in addition to the £9m investment.
Commenting on the news, Cllr. Dylan Butt, Shadow Executive Member at Trafford Council for Culture and Leisure said “Few Trafford Leisure members or visitors to the centres would argue against new investment, but were likely anticipating something more than just a refurbishment of what are tired and dated leisure centres. The people of Trafford were expecting new state of the art, carbon neutral, energy efficient facilities, but now are being told to settle for second best.
“There are also risks to the council from choosing the refurbishment route as there are potential unknown costs of redeveloping older buildings arising from structural issues for example. With new builds, the council could avoid unexpected costs and delays through greater certainty over building costs.
“The council could also look more seriously at other options to get new leisure centres delivered such as partnering with a private operator. Swimming is hugely popular in Trafford and private operators do not always offer swimming provision whereas Trafford Leisure does, so there is already scope to look further at a partnership model.
“The lack of investment from the council in its leisure assets contrasts sharply with other spending which the council has prioritised such as lending the owners of the CIS Tower in Manchester city centre £60m for a refurbishment and taking out a loan of £17.6 million to invest in four properties around Albert Square in the city centre.
“The Conservative Group on Trafford Council is calling on the Labour administration to revisit these proposals and commence a wider review of the leisure offer in Trafford. Reducing health inequalities is the first priority of the council’s newly refreshed Corporate Plan and the journey that the council has embarked on regarding Trafford’s leisure offer does not provide us with confidence that there will be more, accessible physical activities and sports sessions available in the community.”