THE Culcheth Community Campus leisure site based at Culcheth High School, is to be permanently closed following a public consultation.
LiveWire and Warrington Borough Council have announced that Culcheth Community Campus, which has been closed since March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, will not reopen.
The borough’s leisure and library sites – which are managed by LiveWire on behalf of Warrington Borough Council – have been closed for large periods of the past 18 months, severely impacting on the vital commercial income generated through avenues such as Leisure memberships, which have still yet to return to pre-lockdown levels.
Around £7m in commercial income has been lost since March 2020 and LiveWire has in place a Financial Recovery Plan, which is supported by Warrington Borough Council and aimed at safeguarding the long-term future of leisure and library services in the borough.
Culcheth Community Campus has traditionally had lower member numbers and has operated at a loss for a number of years – because of this, and in light of the wider economic situation, the continuing operation of the site is no longer viable.
The decision, taken by the LiveWire board and recently ratified by Warrington Borough Council, follows a public consultation into the future of the site that was held in late 2020 and a subsequent Equality Impact Assessment and Community Impact Assessment, as well as a Consultation Assessment Report.
Culcheth members continue to have access to all LiveWire facilities, meaning they can use leisure facilities at all other sites including Birchwood, Woolston and Orford. The sports pitches and sports hall at Culcheth remains available to the community to hire via Culcheth High School, along with a new programme of group exercise classes. A new private gym offer has also opened at the nearby Culcheth Sports Club (Daten).
No compulsory redundancies have been made, with any staff based at Culcheth who wished to be, redeployed elsewhere within LiveWire.
Emma Hutchinson, Managing Director of LiveWire, said: “Our ongoing financial recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic has meant that difficult decisions have had to be made to aid us in securing the future long-term provision and development of leisure and library services in the borough. Once such future development is the forthcoming investment by LiveWire and Warrington Borough Council in the vital community resource that is Culcheth Library, working alongside a local working group to work on a refurbishment plan for the site. While we understand this very difficult decision will be a disappointment to some, we remain committed to the health and wellbeing of Culcheth residents, with other nearby LiveWire sites open to members offering a wide range of leisure activities. We continue to thank all our members for their support and patience.”
Cllr Tony Higgins, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Communities, said: “Whilst we know the decision to close the Culcheth Community Campus leisure site will be disappointing for many, we’ve not taken this decision lightly and unfortunately it was no longer viable to continue running the site at a loss following the coronavirus pandemic.
“Together with LiveWire we have identified a number of alternatives to ensure that local residents still have access to a number of community, sport and leisure facilities both in the village, at the site through Culcheth High School and within a short radius. We know how important the Culture and Leisure offer in Warrington is to local people, so these savings will help to maintain and safeguard LiveWire services for the future.”