LEISURE centres in Knutsford and Poynton could still be under threat of closure because they will just ‘rot way’ unless Cheshire East invests in them, a Tory councillor said.

Cllr Tony Dean (Knutsford) questioned why the council was proposing to ‘invest to save’ in many of its leisure centres when ‘there’s absolutely nothing in there for Poynton or Knutsford’.

He was speaking at Monday’s meeting of the environment and communities committee, where a revised strategic leisure review was being considered as part of the council’s plans to save £1.3m.

Knutsford Guardian: Cllr Tony DeanCllr Tony Dean (Image: Cheshire East Council)

“Invest to save can work two ways – the ones which have been presented are investing money to create extra income, but there’s also another way to do it, which is invest money to stop you losing income,” said Cllr Dean.

“I know certain people that are now travelling to Wilmslow because they see that as a much nicer leisure centre than going to Knutsford.

“The more that happens the less people will use Knutsford and it will close itself.

“It will close because of lack of investment and I think that investment programme needs to be re-worked to include Poynton and Knutsford for us to be able to support this paper.”

Cllr Dean said investment was needed ‘so we just don’t see a managed decline and see them shut themselves in a couple of years because they’re just rotting away’.

Earlier in the meeting, visiting councillor Mike Sewart (Poynton, Con) had asked whether there was a geographical and political bias regarding the investment proposals.

“All the centres surrounded by red seats in Crewe, Macclesfield, Shavington, Sandbach and Nantwich, appear to be safe whereas Poynton and Knutsford get starved of capital,” said Cllr Sewart.

Knutsford Guardian: Cllr Ashley FarrallCllr Ashley Farrall (Image: Cheshire East Council)

But Macclesfield councillor Ashley Farrall said the outlook now was more positive.

"When this report first came to committee in November it was veering to the conclusion of shutting four leisure centres and we’re not doing that now, we’ve got a more positive outlook," he said.

"It might not be perfect, the capital investment in certain leisure centres might not be what we want it to be, but it’s better than closing four sites across the borough. We’re keeping them open.”

Included in the recommendations agreed yesterday are:

  • the transfer of the Middlewich and Holmes Chapel centres to their respective schools;
  • minor invest-to-save improvements for larger leisure centres, with three year investment reviews;
  • an increase in charges;
  • a reduction of the discount offered by the Options membership from 25 per cent to 20 per cent from April and then 15 per cent the following year;
  • a retention of the swimming surcharge;
  • a temporary one-off use of reserves from Everybody Health & Leisure – which runs the leisure centres for the council;
  • a temporary one-off contribution from public health.

During the meeting, Conservative group leader Janet Clowes put forward an amendment to ensure a programme of investment ‘to counteract the current lack of future-proofing at Poynton, Knutsford and Alsager leisure centres’ to be made ready for inclusion in the 2026 budget, subject to market conditions.

She said it was ‘important to have oven-ready projects on the shelf to move forward in a timely way, as and when our financial situation gets better, when construction and inflation rates drop’.

The amendment was narrowly carried and this was included in the final approved recommendations.

The meeting was told the measures approved will only secure just over £1m of the required savings and another £250K savings will have to be found later in the year.

The council is also still working on agreements with the schools to ensure public access to Middlewich and Holmes Chapel leisure centres.