Ashington’s new multi-million pound leisure centre has today been officially opened.
Thousands of people have visited Ashington Leisure Centre in the first four weeks since it opened on January 4.
More than 20,000 visits were recorded for people going for a swim, visiting the gym or booking into a fitness class in January at the new centre.
And the new Ashington Library, which is based in the centre, has welcomed over 432 new members, and issued nearly 8,000 items in January – a 20 per cent increase on the same time period last year.
MP for Wansbeck, Ian Lavery, officially opened the building today (Friday), where he was joined by cricketer Ben Harmison and ex-footballer Jack Charlton.
“This superb new leisure centre is an excellent facility for people in Ashington and for the wider community and I am honoured to perform the official opening,” he said.
“The project is an example of how targeted investment in key infrastructure can create real benefits for everyone and boost health and economic wellbeing.”
The flagship leisure facility is a regional centre of excellence for sport with facilities including indoor cricket nets; a six-lane, 25-metre swimming pool, exercise studios a six-court sports hall and a spa.
Northumberland County Council invested £20m in the centre which is managed by Active Northumberland. The facility is also funded by Sport England through a contribution of £1m of National Lottery funding.
Coun Val Tyler, cabinet member for arts, leisure and culture at Northumberland County Council, said: “These are superb figures for fitness, gym and swim use, and the centre and library are clearly proving to be incredibly popular.
“The centre is both a centre of sporting excellence and a priceless community asset - a wonderful place for both residents and visitors to get fit, relax, read a book, take the children for soft play, or just to meet up with friends and have a cuppa.”
The luxurious Tranquillity Spa has also proved to be a big hit signing up hundreds of members and recording more than 1,600 visits to the thermal experience.
There have also been more than 1,500 visits to the “Go Wild” soft play area.
Coun Grant Davey, leader of Northumberland County Council, added: “This is a terrific facility not just for Ashington but for the whole of the county.
“It demonstrates our commitment to leisure facilities at a time when many other local authorities are having to cut theirs, and it marks the start of the exciting re-development of Portland Park and Ashington.”
The new Ashington library, which is based on the ground and first floor of the centre, has an extensive range of books and digital resources, a dedicated IT hub with 18 computer terminals for research, free wi-fi, and a bespoke children’s library.
The building’s design incorporates a number of artistic features including feature windows inspired by the Pitmen Painters.
To find out more about activities at the new centre, visit www.activenorthumberland.org.uk