COUNCIL-OWNED leisure centres in Ellesmere Port, Neston and Christleton are not expected to reopen until September.

Chester's Northgate Arena would only partially reopen and that is dependant on interim refurbishment work being completed by the autumn.

Frodsham Leisure Centre, as well as Ellesmere Port and Neston civic halls, will remain closed until at least December 31.

Ian Ashworth, Cheshire West and Chester Council's director of public health, confirmed the potential timescales in a report to members of the cabinet who are set to meet next week.

All eleven of the council-owned leisure sites, which are operated by its community interest company Brio Leisure, were forced to close in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, with 580 staff being furloughed.

In his report, Mr Ashworth anticipates that Ellesmere Port Sports Village, Christleton Sports Centre and Neston Recreation Centre could reopen from September, if it is safe to do so, with limited activity initially.

He said: "The impact on health and wellbeing as a consequence of this crisis has been heavily noted nationally and locally. Clearly a balance needs to be struck between maximising opportunities for access to facilities from a health and wellbeing perspective, against the risks, operational challenges and also costs of opening facilities.

"Brio's return to operation model will see a phased approach taking into account national and local guidelines with limited activity, expanding as and when activities are safe to return.

"It could take some time for those activities which involve gatherings to return. Subject to further national guidance, it is anticipated that from September, the pool sites – Ellesmere Port Sports Village, Winsford Lifestyle Centre, Northwich Memorial Court, Christleton and Neston Recreation Centre – could reopen provided it is safe to do so.

"A phased reopening will give the opportunity to gauge the level of customer confidence in using our facilities, usage and income levels in comparison to operating costs.

"Northgate Arena will partially reopen dependant on the completion of the interim refurbishment work, anticipated to be by Autumn 2020. All other leisure sites operated by Brio will remain closed until at least 31st December 2020.

"The situation will be reviewed on a regular basis. Leisure users, such as Brio members from closed sites will be able to access services at those opened sites in line with the safety guidelines and phasing plans."