We are all getting sportier!

A multimillion pound investment in sporting facilities in Breckland is helping to drive up participation rates, new figures have revealed.The creation of a new leisure centre in Dereham and the expansion and refurbishment of an existing facility in Thetford was completed last year as part of a £66m Private Finance Initiative (PFI) deal.

A multi-million-pound investment in sporting facilities in Breckland is helping to drive up participation rates, new figures have revealed.

The creation of a new leisure centre in Dereham and the expansion and refurbishment of an existing facility in Thetford was completed last year as part of a £66m Private Finance Initiative (PFI) deal.

Officials at Breckland Council and Parkwood Leisure Ltd now say the usage of the two leisure centres has increased "significantly" since the more than £12m bricks and mortar investment.

New figures for the six months between August and January have revealed that total admissions at the new Dereham Leisure Centre are up


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27pc compared to the

same period in 2006/07.

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The £8.9m building in Station Road, which includes a fitness and aerobics suite, sports hall, four rink indoor bowls area and six-lane 25m pool, was opened by former Olympic swimmer Sharron Davies last April and replaced the 33-year-old former leisure centre in Quebec Road.

Usage rates at Breckland Leisure Centre in Thetford increased by over 6pc over the autumn and winter period, according to figures from Breckland Council and Parkwood Leisure.

A £4m project to construct a new indoor bowls area, gym, all-weather outdoor games pitches and a renovation of existing facilities at the Croxton Road site was completed three months ahead of schedule at the end of 2006.

In a report to Breckland Council's policy development review panel next month, Riana Rudland, PFI monitoring officer, said the opening of Dereham Leisure Centre had proved a "large success", with only a few minor operational defects such as the floor tiles in the children's learner pool causing a number cuts and bruises to users.

She added that participation in swimming lessons at both leisure centres had also increased "dramatically", with usage up almost 25pc at Thetford and nearly 15pc at Dereham between August and January. Parkwood's rural holiday sports programme has also proved a success, with 100pc satisfaction ratings, the report adds.

A 32-year PFI leisure contract between Breckland Council and Parkwood Leisure worth £66m was triggered following the completion of the Dereham building phase.

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