A LEISURE centre in Somerset is closing due to a drop in the number of people exercising there.

Shepton Mallet Leisure Centre, owned by Whitstone School, will shut from January 31 "subject to a consultation process with individual employees".

A spokesperson for the school said Covid, the cost of living crisis and soaring energy costs had led to "a reduction in use of the leisure centre to its lowest level for many years".

They added: "It has not been possible to realise the amount of revenue necessary to ensure the sustainability of the leisure centre.

"The use of the leisure centre fitness suite has dropped by around 90 per cent in two years, whilst the number of people booking onto organised classes is now at a level where many are unviable.

"Squash court bookings have also reached their lowest point for seven years and annual memberships are at a level which cannot sustain the leisure centre into the coming months."

The spokesperson said: "Over the past year, considerable work has been undertaken by the leisure centre and school staff to seek ways of saving the provision in its entirety.

"Sadly, none have offered close to the sort of revenue required to ensure the sustainability of the leisure centre in its current state."

Many of the current facilities such as the astroturf, sports hall and playing fields will continue to be available to the local community.

"The leaders of these activities have been contacted by leisure centre colleagues to discuss plans to safeguard the long-term provision on the astroturf pitch, in the sports hall and in the two businesses that sub-let rooms on the top floor of the leisure centre," added the spokesperson.

"Whitstone School is also exploring potential uses for the long-term use of leisure centre site, including developing a new special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) unit for the region."

Leisure centre members have been contacted about the leisure centre closure.

The spokesperson said: "As we are sure you appreciate, this decision has been a difficult one and has taken some time to arrive at.

"In the coming weeks, please be mindful that our staff will continue to provide a professional service whilst dealing with the ongoing process of closing the centre."