Longridge gym saved for town

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A RESCUE plan to save a popular Longridge fitness gym has been successful.

Longridge Social Enterprise Company (LSEC) has just announced it is to take over the Freedom Fitness Gym and will re-open it on April 10.

And the company has secured two well-known local fitness and events experts to run it.

Fears that Longridge would lose the valuable facility were raised when the gym’s main funder for the past five years, Ribble Valley Borough Council, forecast the gym’s closure last December as part of a cost-cutting exercise.

LSEC stepped in to include saving the gym as a top priority in its campaign to secure the Civic Hall – where the gym complex is situated.

This campaign was boosted in March when the borough’s community services committee, discussing the gym’s proposed closure scheduled for March 31, pledged to give the council-owned gym equipment to LSEC if the company went ahead with its rescue plan.

In a statement this week, LSEC explained: “In December 2011 the borough council announced it would withdraw funding from the Freedom Fitness Gym attached to the Civic Hall at the end of March 2012 in order to save £31,870 as part of an overall savings package of over £600,000.

“As soon as this decision was made public, LSEC began work to see if it was feasible for LSEC to re-open the gym as soon as possible after April 1. LSEC is pleased to announce that the gym will re-open on April 10 as the Longridge Community Gym.”

Chris Parkinson, who chairs LSEC’s Management Group, said: “We knew there was plenty of support to keep the gym open and we have tapped into this to come up with a plan to maintain this important facility.

“We are delighted that Darren Salmon, a well-known local fitness instructor, and Angie Harrison who has a wealth of experience in running community projects, will run the gym on a day-to-day basis.’’

An extensive recruitment campaign has begun and there will be a series of open days running over the Easter weekend. These events will allow potential members to meet the team and hear about introductory offers.

Rupert Swarbrick, a director of LSEC, said: “Running the gym seemed a perfect fit with LSEC’s role in the Longridge community.’’