CALLS are being made for Trafford Council to ditch its plan to shut the George Carnall Leisure Centre.

An online petition has been signed by hundreds of users and residents concerned about the loss of the centre within the community.

Stretford and Urmston MP Kate Green is also calling for the closure plans to be stopped.

Ms Green told the Messenger: "I am very concerned with the plans to close George Carnall, and the lack of firm guarantees of new investment to extend facilities at Urmston Leisure Centre. I am therefore calling on Trafford Leisure Trust and Trafford Council to halt these plans, share all information relevant to this decision publicly, and engage in full consultation with local residents and clubs."

The petition aimed at saving the George Carnall has attracted more than 700 signatories, concerned that, as they see it, the promised expansion at Urmston Leisure Centre to house the more than 400 centre users from George Carnall, has not as yet, happened.

This is despite fears expressed by some of users that closure is imminent.

Gillian Prideaux, the secretary of one of the user groups, Trafford Sword Club, said: "No reason has been given as to why the centre is to be closed. There is a lot of speculation, but nothing factual. As a group, we can't plan anything given we were first told by centre staff it would close in September and then it became December and now we are led to believe it will be March, 2018.

"This total lack of communication means the borough council and Trafford Leisure is creating both confusion and insecurity."

She added: "Should the proposed closure of the George Carnall Leisure Centre go ahead, this will halve the public indoor sports opportunities in the Urmston, Flixton and Davyhulme area.”

Some centre users have also reported that the money earmarked for Urmston's expansion has instead gone on essential maintenance and that staff who were originally promised redeployment, could face redundancy.

Trafford Council admitted there could be redundancies among the 20 staff employed at George Carnall.

Retired painter and decorator Mike Reavy, who launched the petition, told the Messenger that its closure flew in the face of the private firm now running the facilities, Trafford Community Interest, on behalf of Trafford Council, which claims it is promoting its services for 'More people, More active, More often'.

He said: "I joined in January, 2009, after my retirement and without the centre I would miss a multitude of friends, which I have made.

"I will miss my regular workouts, which have become have become such an essential part of my life for staying so fit and healthy because I can honestly say that I have never felt so good in years, and that is down to the dedication of the wonderful staff who keep everybody motivated so as to stay clear of the doctor. The closure of George Carnall will devastate the area."

One of the petition signatories, Claire Isbister, said: "Trafford Council has not considered the community and the impact this will have on people. Urmston cannot be extended, therefore there are no plans to occupy the activities that are currently held at George Carnall

"Our centre has more facilities than Urmston, which include squash courts, multiple sports activity rooms, larger car park, so where is the logic in what the council are planning on doing, which will make Urmston an overcrowded gym?"

Another user, David Marney, said: "I do not believe that facilities at Urmston will be sufficient to serve the needs of the existing customers and the George Carnall customers added together.

"The classes at George Carnall also seem to be well subscribed and the centre also provides other services for the community like karate tournaments, antique sales etc. They have already closed William Wroe Golf Course as well. I think it is a very poor show."

Last November, Trafford Council announced plans to invest £24.4 million into the borough’s leisure facilities as part of its 2017/18 budget proposals.

It followed a Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA), produced earlier in 2016, which identified increasing physical inactivity levels in Trafford as its top priority, with the health cost of inactivity estimated at £4.8 million.

The JSNA suggested that 46 per cent of adults in Trafford who were inactive wanted to take part in sport; 34 per cent of Year Six children and 61 per cent of adults were overweight or obese; 21 per cent of adults had a high anxiety score; and that 114 deaths could be prevented per year if 75 per cent of people aged between 40-79 years engaged in recommended levels of physical activity.

A report identified a level of investment would be required to modernise centres across the borough, with Urmston Leisure Centre, in line for a £2.113 million boost. The overall funding package would be financed from a combination of capital receipts, external grants and borrowing.

A Trafford Council spokesman said: "There is no date set for the closure of the George Carnall centre. This will not happen until Urmston Leisure Centre has been refurbished.

"Trafford Leisure has a huge landscape and has a strong track record of redeploying staff and creating secondments so obviously they will aim to minimise any redundancies.

"Trafford Leisure will work with any clubs regarding the closure and potential movement into the new building / elsewhere in the borough."

The spokesman added: "In an unprecedented move and as a sign of our commitment to modern, accessible and affordable leisure provision across the borough, the council is committed to investing in excess of £24 million to modernise these facilities, ensuring a facility is available in all of our major towns for the benefit of Trafford residents, including proposals to build a new leisure centre with other potential further investment opportunities under review.

"Increasing opportunities for greater levels of physical activity is something that the council is committed to and recognises that this activity doesn’t necessarily have to take place in a Leisure centre. We are working with many of the 130+ clubs and associations that thrive in the borough and this mix of opportunities and choice for our residents is really important.

"The leisure company also has a much wider remit to reach out into the community and engage with people that would never normally consider becoming a member of a leisure centre, providing opportunities and encouraging everyone to enjoy an active and healthy lifestyle."