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Council and Brio set out new vision for health and wellbeing based on community need

A new approach to health and wellbeing across the borough, ensuring affordable and accessible leisure provision for all, is set to be discussed by councillors.

Cheshire West and Chester Council and local company Brio Leisure are looking to work with partners and residents to develop leisure, health and wellbeing services that are tailored to meet the needs of communities.

A report is going before Cabinet on Wednesday, 8 July, outlining a series of recommendations, which also includes significant investment to refurbish Northgate Arena, in Chester, and considers the impact of COVID-19 on services.

The report also outlines the wider challenges faced by Brio, a Council-owned community interest company which runs leisure services on behalf of the Council.

Councillor Louise Gittins, Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “Brio is facing significant challenges, from changes in the market with the increase of budget gyms to a rise in operating costs and the ageing condition of a number of its sites across the borough.

“Despite this, until the impact of COVID-19 was felt here in March, they continued to offer our communities access to excellent health and wellbeing opportunities and have gone on to develop innovative ways to move services online after the pandemic forced facilities to close.

“In the light of COVID-19 and the challenges in the sector, it is clear, however, that the way we run leisure, health and wellbeing services in the borough needs to be reviewed. We are looking at this as a real opportunity to tailor valuable health and wellbeing services on a local level, working with each of our communities to meet their needs in the best way.

“We want to work in partnership with Brio and our communities, all playing our part to look at what we offer, how we do it and how we could do it differently to make a greater difference to people’s lives and achieve our aims of are supporting children and young people to make the best start in life and enabling more adults to live longer, healthier and happier lives, while achieving the best value for public money that we can.”

The future vision outlined in the report is for accessible and affordable leisure, health and wellbeing services, tailored to each area to support and improve the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities.

It would see Northgate Arena, Ellesmere Port Sports Village, Northwich Memorial Court and Winsford Lifestyle Centre becoming primary hub sites with facilities in Christleton, Neston and Frodsham as secondary hub sites. These would offer a customised range of services to meet the needs of residents.

Alongside this, services could also be delivered in different ways closer to communities – including making more use of existing community facilities, partner networks, green space, outdoor facilities and digital opportunities.

If councillors agree, engagement with communities about the vision will begin in late summer.

While Ellesmere Port Sports Village and Northwich Memorial Court offer modern and well-maintained services, Northgate Arena, built in 1976, is picked out in the report as a site in need of significant investment to refurbish and modernise it. If agreed, work could start within nine months.

The Cabinet meeting takes place online using Microsoft Teams and starts at 10am on 8 July.

Information on how to join the meeting is published on the agenda. For more information visit: www.cheshirewestandchester.gov.uk and search for: committee meetings.

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