LIGHTS have been dimmed and workout machines turned off in a bid to save money at Colchester’s biggest sports complex.

Leisure World, which is run by Colchester Council, has faced a huge increase in energy bills.

The Gazette has been told by those using the gym at Leisure World some treadmills and exercise bikes are not in use.

Leisure World users also said it appeared lights had been dimmed in some parts of the building.

As part of the budget process Colchester Council is looking at ways it can make additional savings at its leisure centres.

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This includes the recruitment of an energy manager, who will be tasked with significantly reducing the energy consumption at the facility.

A new motor could also be bought for the swimming pool in a bid to reduce energy use.

Both moves would save the council £100,000 in each of the next two financial years.

As a result of expected cost pressures the council has factored in an additional £206,000 which may need to be spent in the next year.

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Discussing the measures, a spokesman for Colchester Council said: “Our sport and leisure facilities have been, and continue to be, significantly impacted by the substantial increase in energy costs that are affecting everyone.

“We are taking all necessary steps to be more efficient in the way Leisure World operates, including working closely with our new energy manager to identify opportunities to be more energy efficient and looking at innovative ways to reduce energy use.

"As well as certain obvious measures, such as turning off lights and some exercise machines when not in use, we are also exploring the use of smart motors to control Leisure World’s heating system, which can adapt to varying levels of demand and deliver significant energy savings."

The spokesman said there were "no plans" to change opening hours. 

They added: “There are no plans to reduce opening hours or the services we offer to residents and the community across our range of sport and leisure facilities – as other local authorities across the country have had to do. Our primary focus is on running our centres at maximum efficiency without impacting the valuable services we offer.”