CONTENTIOUS plans to close Knutsford leisure centre have caused anger and frustration.

Incensed residents feel the town is being ‘penalised for having a healthy population’.

Cheshire East Council’s environment and communities committee meets next week to discuss a report which proposes to axe funding from centres in Knutsford, Holmes Chapel, Middlewich and Poynton.

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The charity Everybody Health and Leisure, who operate the sites, fear the cull would have a ‘detrimental impact’ on the physical and mental health of many people.

The closure could also see the loss of 200 local jobs.

Gym user John Newton, from Knutsford, said: “I was dismayed to learn that there are proposals to withdraw funding for the town’s leisure centre.

“It is frankly nonsense.”

The appraisal data used by the council of giving the borough’s leisure centres a score based on usage and health data, he said, is faulty and misleading.

John said: “The method of calculating the usage score is flawed because it bands the absolute number of visits rather than calculating a score based on the relative size of the wards covered.

“Naturally, Macclesfield and Crewe are going to score higher than Knutsford because they are bigger facilities in bigger population so more people will pass through the door.

“Even if everyone in Knutsford used our facility regularly it is unlikely that it would score higher than these.”

According to the report, just 5.2 per cent of all visitors to the council’s leisure centres attend Knutsford, with only 2.5 per cent going to Holmes Chapel.

The report reads: “Knutsford Leisure Centre scores low on both usage and public health assessments undertaken and site services the smallest population from a care community perspective with low participation from two of the three wards.”

The cuts come as the council is facing mounting financial pressure, with an £18.7 million shortfall forecast in this year's budget.

John added: “The public health indicator scoring is opaque but appears that areas with poor health outcomes score higher.

“Crewe scores the highest and Knutsford very low.

“We are being penalised for having a relatively healthy population in our town.”