LEISURE Centres in Caerphilly county borough received a record 1.25 million visits during 2012/13, an 11 per cent increase from the previous year.

More than 100,000 residents now hold a SmartCard which provides easy access to leisure facilities across the county borough – a 15 per cent increase in registered SmartCard holders since 2011/12.

There were more than 78,000 single visits to Sport Caerphilly planned activities, 3,000 more visits than the council’s target.

Significant investments have been made across leisure facilities in the county borough, which have included a state-of-the-art indoor 3G pitch at New Tredegar Leisure Centre, and extensive refurbishments at Risca, Cefn Fforest and Newbridge Leisure Centres.

Further investment is planned for the coming year to improve changing facilities at Heolddu Leisure Centre and a £6 million Centre for Sporting Excellence at Ystrad Mynach is due to open in 2014.

Dave Poole, cabinet member for Community and Leisure Centre, said: “We are really bucking the trend here in Caerphilly county borough.

“As a council we are determined to improve the health and wellbeing of all our residents and I firmly believe that encouraging people into sport and physical activity is pivotal in achieving this. Through significant investment in our service we hope to encourage more people to be more active more often.”

For 2013/14 the council has introduced six new improvement objectives, one of which is to “improve awareness, access, variety and use of leisure, community and sporting facilities.”

Sport and Leisure Services will be working to ensure all primary schools in the county borough participate in a new intensive school swimming programme that was implemented in September 2012.

A SmartCard app for smartphones and tablets will also be developed to ensure effective engagement with teenage residents who have previously been under-represented as Leisure Facility users.

This will follow on from collaborative work with the Caerphilly Youth Forum to introduce a loyalty reward scheme for SmartCard holders which was launched earlier this month.

To find out more about the council’s improvement objectives and what is being done to address them visit www.caerphilly.gov.uk/ImprovementPlan.