TWO flagship fitness hubs are to have their ageing gym equipment replaced after complaints from customers.

The revamp at Witton Park Arena and Blackburn Sports and Leisure Centre will cost more than £200,000.

The move comes because the equipment, installed when they opened, is starting to break down frequently.

On Thursday, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s executive board will be asked by borough leisure boss Cllr Damian Talbot to authorise the spending of more than £200,000 on the replacement devices.

His Tory group shadow Cllr Kevin Connor said: “This is good news. This investment is a decent sum and long overdue.”

In a report Cllr Talbot tells senior colleagues: “Witton Park Arena opened in 2014 and Blackburn Sports and Leisure Centre opened in 2015.

“Both leisure centres still have their original gym equipment in place, which has become outdated and has reached the end of its practical life span.

“Gym equipment is breaking down on a more frequent basis and is out of order for longer than necessary as parts are becoming more difficult to obtain.

“The leisure centres are facing increasing maintenance and repair costs and receiving increasingly negative comments from frustrated customers.

“The leisure centres were closed for extended periods of time in 2020 and 2021 due to national and local Covid-19 restrictions.

“The closures have had a significant impact on health and fitness memberships and customer confidence.

“When the leisure centres reopened in June 2021, income from direct debit memberships was 51 per cent lower than in June 2019.

“By September 2021, direct debit income had improved by nine per cent but was still 43 per cent lower than in September 2019.

“In order to recover the income to pre-Covid levels and achieve income targets, the leisure centres need to provide modern, fit for purpose health and fitness facilities which support membership retention and growth.

“To achieve this, it will be necessary to replace the gym equipment at both Witton Park Arena and Blackburn Sports and Leisure Centre.

“During the past seven years customer trends and expectations have also changed and gym equipment manufacturers have reflected these changes in the design and ‘look and feel’ of new equipment.

“Private sector competition for health and fitness has also increased in Blackburn."

He recommends the executive board to approve the investment in health and fitness facilities at Witton Park Arena and Blackburn Sports and Leisure Centre for new gym equipment, new flooring and new lighting.