Large rise in Mid Sussex leisure centre users

Refurbished gym at The Triangle Leisure Centre, Burgess Hill pictured last year. Photo by Derek Martin. SUS-170516-172243008
Refurbished gym at The Triangle Leisure Centre, Burgess Hill pictured last year. Photo by Derek Martin. SUS-170516-172243008

The number of people who used leisure centres and civic halls in Mid Sussex last year was 150,000 higher than expected.

Members of the district council’s Cabinet were presented with the figures on Monday July 9 as part of a report into its performance in 2017/18.

The report covered areas ranging from the paying of invoices and the time taken by staff to answer the phone, through to staff sickness and the amount of household waste going to landfill.

It stated that the district’s various leisure facilities were visited 1,854,920 times during the financial year, outstripping its target of 1,705,124 uses. Leisure centre membership also rose sharply, with 14,198 card carriers, compared to 12,667 in 2016/17.

Leisure usage was one of the 28 targets which were met or exceeded last year, with a further nine falling slightly short of target and five missing by a margin of more than 10 per cent.

Ethnic minority representation in the workforce, the percentage of plans received by building control which were checked within 15 working days, and the speed at which housing benefit or council tax support claims or changes of circumstances were processed, all fell into the latter category.

Feedback from customers who had contacted the customer service centre was 98 per cent positive, with 268 compliments received, compared to 189 the previous year.

The average waiting time for any of the 85,395 customer service calls to be answered was 22 seconds, compared to 25 seconds in 2016/17. The target was 30 seconds.

Another positive saw a drop in the amount of household waste sent to landfill. The council had set a target of 473kg per household for 2017/18 but recorded a disposal rate of 433kg per household. In 2016/17, the figure was 439kg.

However, the 43 per cent target for household waste sent for reuse, recycling and composting, was just missed (42.1 per cent).

Other areas which missed their targets by less than 10 per cent included the collection of council tax, the collection of non-domestic rates, the number of parking enquiries dealt with within ten days and the number of Environmental Health Service requests which were actioned and resolved within three months.

Garry Wall (Con, Haywards Heath Franklands), leader of the council, said: “Wherever we turn in the world, we know it’s a challenging environment out there.

“When you look at this report in detail – and you have to look at it in detail to understand how the council is performing in a wide range of areas – the hard fact here is the council has done very well in a very challenging backdrop. It’s been a successful year.

“We know where we can do better and have targeted processes in place to go forward.

“We know where we are and we know where we’ll be in the future, which is not only good for us, it’s good for the public.”