TOWN Hall chiefs are facing pressure to carry out major improvements to a ‘neglected’ Appleton leisure centre – with a petition calling for action securing 1,800 signatures.

Resident James Ducker launched the petition calling for Broomfields Leisure Centre to be transformed and to give south Warrington the community sports facility it ‘deserves’.

Mr Ducker, who is the northern football correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, says the centre is in an appalling state.

He is asking for a reconfiguration of the site to deal with access and parking issues.

“The leisure centre has still to reopen and is no longer fit for purpose,” he said.

“At a time when social, physical and mental wellbeing are so important, it’s a sad state of affairs.

“A new 3G football pitch has recently been installed behind the leisure centre and, with the right funding and some imagination, it could be a fantastic sport and leisure hub for south Warrington.

“But for that to happen Warrington Borough Council, LiveWire, Bridgewater High School and the like are going to have come together and formulate a long-term plan, rather than throw good money after bad by doing some partial maintenance.”

Mr Ducker says while some partial works would be welcome, they should not be at the expense of a complete overhaul in the longer-term.

Meanwhile, he believes that after 'so many years of neglect', any notion of there not being the funding to commit to a major project 'won't wash' with residents.

Liberal Democrat councillors have been putting pressure on the Labour-run council to make improvements to the site – the only LiveWire-run leisure facility south of the Manchester Ship Canal.

They say the current facilities are of such a poor standard that they would not be deemed fit for residents in other parts of Warrington.

But the issue has sparked a response from the Town Hall.

Cllr Tony Higgins, the council’s cabinet member for leisure and community, says: “Without doubt, we are totally committed to investing in Broomfields Leisure Centre.

“Our substantial investment in delivering a 3G playing pitch clearly indicates that commitment.

“What would be helpful is better funding from the Tory Government for authorities such as Warrington that will help support such projects.

“We are all now aware of the financial crisis this country is facing due to the Covid-19 pandemic and unfortunately this is having serious consequences in delivering projects and all the nice to have things.”

Conservative Warrington South MP Andy Carter is also calling for swift improvements to the facility.

He said: “I agree that Broomfields Leisure Centre is in urgent need of a major overhaul, it’s simply not right that investment hasn’t been made to the site. 

“I know how Mr Ducker and his family feel because I go there with my family and it’s just not acceptable.

“As Cllr Higgins knows, it is the local council’s responsibility to provide and maintain leisure services, and it’s perfectly reasonable that people are asking what their local council are planning to do about it. 

“I’ve met with LiveWire and Bridgewater High School to look at some potential solutions, however, we have a council whose investment priorities are focused outside of Warrington, spending borrowed money on commercial assets and solar farms across the country, rather than providing the services local people expect when they pay their council taxes.”

Mr Ducker’s petition has now secured more than 1,815 signatures.

Click here to sign it.