KILKEEL Leisure Centre is set to go back to opening seven days a week later this month. Separate corresponding statements issued in recent days by the DUP and Sinn Féin confirmed that, from 17 April, the centre will return to offering full weekly access to its facilities. DUP MLA Diane Forsythe said that there will be full opening from that date “with no pre-booking for weekends”, and that, whilst pre-booking will remain in place on weekdays, this will be totally removed in the coming weeks “as newly recruited lifeguards are in place”. She described this as “great news” and expressed her gratitude to her party’s Mournes councillors Henry Reilly and Glyn Hanna for “continually pressing this issue”. Ms Forsythe also stated that “full renovation of the pool and dry area has now been costed at £3m and will be going through committee with a near future time scale as planning approval has already been granted”. Cllr Reilly welcomed “the commitments from council management” and said that he “looks forward to the stabilisation of services”. Cllr Hanna added that he was “delighted to finally receive positive results that can be shared”. “This has been a long process, and we have been resilient in our campaigning on this but recognise there is a long way still to go,” he said. “We will continue to fight and secure the best services for Kilkeel.” Mournes Sinn Féin councillor Michael Rice said that, at a meeting with council officials, he and South Down MLA Sinéad Ennis had been advised that “from 17 April the leisure centre will be reopened seven days a week”. “The online booking system will not apply to weekend swimmers, while it will still be in place for the Monday to Friday slots,” he added. “We have been promised that once the remaining vacant posts are filled, the centre will be back to full operation and the booking system will be done away with. “This has been an ongoing process to get the centre back to its full capacity, but finally we are starting to see real progress. “Sinn Féin will continue to work with the council, on behalf of all users in Kilkeel, to ensure the leisure centre is fit for purpose.” The council was contacted for comment on the change to opening times and for clarity on plans relating to the renovation of the pool and dry area, but had not responded at the time of going to press.
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