OPEN air gyms could be set up to encourage residents in Leigh to get active.

Councillors on the town council are considering the “green gym” project for funding.

The equipment – featuring air walking frames, air skier, sit-up boards and cross trainers – could be placed at Marine Parade, Bonchurch Park, off Bonchurch Avenue, and the grassed central area along Highlands Boulevard

Similar gyms are already in use in Priory Park, in Southend, and Shoebury Park. They are suitable for all ages – and free.

Town council chairman Caroline Parker said: “I think they are a marvellous idea, especially for getting senior citizens active.

“I raised the gyms as a suggestion about four years ago and it was pretty much laughed out because theywere too expensive, need maintenance and there were worries about youngsters abusing them.

"However, I saw a documentary about the real health benefits.

"But I worry about the three locations proposed – Marine Parade residents are very protective of their sea views and suffered with youngsters hanging about at night until we opened the skate park.

This may cause this problem again.”

She said Bonchurch Park may only have space for a couple of pieces of equipment and Highlands Boulevard may be inappropriate as it would mean crossing a busy dual carriageway.

Ian Houghton, 52, from Leigh, who is in training for a 52-mile charity walk, said: “I wouldn’t have thought we have a suitable climate for it. However, it is an interesting concept.”

Each piece of equipment costs about £1,100, including installation, so a large area would cost up to £10,000. The equipment is designed to last, so maintenance costs would be low.

Grant funding from the Lottery’s Awards for All programme would be available, so the cost to the council could be zero. Planning permission would be needed.

Carole Mulroney, chairman of the town council’s leisure, foreshore and environment committee, who will discuss ideas for projects on Thursday, said: “All committees have been asked to look at suggestions for ideas within their remit which would enhance and benefit the town.

“If they are felt to be appropriate, we will go out to public consultation, when we hope other relevant ideas will come forward from residents.”