Closing leisure centres early as part of a cost-cutting drive is the “wrong decision” and will negatively impact people’s health, an MP has warned.

MCC is planning to reduce the evening opening hours at its leisure centres in Abergavenny, Caldicot, Chepstow and Monmouth to help save £140,000.

It is part of a wider £8.4m package of proposed budget savings and cuts for the new financial year.

Standard opening times from April will be 7:00am to 9:30pm on weekdays, instead of until 10:00pm, and 8:15am to 4:30pm on Saturdays and Sundays, instead of closing at 6:00pm. 

Local MP David Davies, a regular gym user, said shutting half an hour early during the week “may not make too much of a difference” - but questioned the new weekend hours.

“The justification being put forward by the council is there are more staff on site than customers at these times,” said Mr Davies.

“That may partly be true because people tend to drift off and leave a little bit before closing time, so it will obviously be less busy towards the end of a session. 

“However, I use the leisure centres quite often and have seen people there late at night right up until facilities close.

“I have also noticed and welcome an increase in the number of young people using the gym, particularly at weekends. It is great they are doing something healthy with their time and there is a definite upsurge in fitness among the younger generations.”

The MP said the projected cost savings of £140,000 “don’t seem that high” and accused the council of trying to cover the hole in its budget “at the expense” of service users.

“Leisure centres are there to provide a healthy and affordable lifestyle choice,” added Mr Davies.

“Indeed, swimming clubs at Chepstow Leisure Centre have been in touch with concerns that their weekly sessions will no longer be economically viable if opening hours are reduced, alongside increased hire charges, and they may be forced to shut down as a result.

“The council should think again and look at other ways of saving this money.”