COUNCIL bosses have promised an update on £63million plans to overhaul County Durham’s gyms and leisure centres ‘as soon as we can’.

In January, Durham County Council agreed the multi-million pound programme to renovate, update or rebuild all its fitness facilities but with non-essential work stalled by coronavirus the scheme's progress is being questioned.

At a meeting of the council’s Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Management Board, Councillor Mark Wilkes said: “At the moment the leisure centres are closed and we’ve got no indication as to when they will reopen.

“The leisure centre changes are a huge amount, £60 million of investment to regenerate them, but there’s other schemes as well.

“Decisions have been made, but we don’t know as councillors what the feeling is as to when those projects will start to occur on the ground, in terms of actual work.”

He said if work could start now, while centres are closed, it could speed up completion.

Leisure centres in Seaham, Chester-le-Street and Bishop Auckland are set to be rebuilt under the programme, with a five slated for refurbishment, including Durham’s Freeman’s Quay Leisure Centre, which opened in 2008 to replace the former Durham’s City Baths.

Bosses have previously claimed the ‘sad state’ of some centres means the cash injection is essential to maintain services in some areas, or risk seeing them shut down.

The scheme has been called the ‘biggest single investment in leisure of any council in the North East’.

Chief executive Terry Collins said the authority is busy with the current emergency but officers will provide the information when possible.

He said: "We’ve been all hands on deck with the current emergency.

“I think you will have to bear with us for a little while, until we get back to where we were.

“The world has been upside down for a few months and we need to reset ourselves, but we will be back with information as soon as we can.”

A report for councillors on the progress of plans to overhaul leisure centres is expected in September.