FEWER fitness fanatics across Taunton and Wellington are visiting the area’s leisure facilities, new figures show.

The number of visitors to swimming pools and gyms are on the slide, as revealed in figures collated by operator Tone Leisure.

Tone Leisure runs facilities at Blackbrook Pavilion, Taunton Pool, St James’ Pool, Wellington Sports Centre, Vivary Golf Course and Wellsprings Leisure Centre.

Usage between April 2013 and March 2014 is down by 72,891 visits across all centres on the previous year, with bosses pointing to the six-month closure of Taunton Pool during its revamp accounting for 65,000 of these.

There has also been a fall in gym usage, down by 7%, while casual swimming has dropped due to the pool closure.

However, there has been an increase in the amount of gym-goers shifting to group exercise, with class usage growing by 6%.

But despite the drop in visitors, the number of accidents recorded jumped from 749 to 814 last year.

The figures show Tone is currently £247,000 below budget – £133,000 due to Taunton Pool – for the year, but the operator says it has also spent less and has made £188,000 in staff savings.

Juliette Dickinson, Tone managing director, compiled the figures ahead of the Deane’s community scrutiny meeting on Tuesday (June 10), which will be looking at the operator’s overall performance.

She said: “The results show that the second half of the year has continued to be as challenging a period for the leisure contract as the first half.

“This is perhaps not surprising with major building works being undertaken at two of the centres.

“Swimming income has been of particular concern and is 22% down on budget for the full year.

“The contract has been affected by the closure of Taunton Pool for most of the second half of the year, although swimming is below budget at all other Taunton sites with swimming facilities.”

There could be another setback for swimmers as the Deane is currently investigating two poolside holes at St James Pool, exposing deep cavities.

However, Ms Dickinson added: “Now that the building works are completed, we remain optimistic that the business can be rebuilt and that new leisure users can be attracted to the refurbished facilities.

“We are very positive and have had positive feedback on Taunton Pool so we feel that we can start to grow useage.”