THE number of people using a refurbished leisure centre has soared in six months.

Waterside Farm Leisure Centre, Canvey, reopened in August after a £5.4million revamp, which began in May 2012.

Since the reopening, there has been a 44 per cent increase in people taking out a membership deal – from 1,735 to 2,503.

Facilities at the centre, in Somnes Avenue, include swimming pools, a sports hall, squash courts, a fitness suite and 3G football pitch. The number using the football pitch has almost doubled, from 742 in September to 1,300 in February.

Attendances have also been boosted by around 30 per cent in this time, to around 22,000 people a month.

Peter Burch, Castle Point councillor for leisure, said this showed how many people, aside from members, were visiting.

Mr Burch said: “We are very pleased to see so many people from south Essex making use of this excellent facility.

“It is really encouraging to knowmoney spent on improving the centre is being repaid by the support of the people of Castle Point and beyond.’’ Last month, the Echo reported almost 75 per cent of Castle Point’s population was overweight, making it the seventh fattest region in the country.

The figures were compiled by Public Health England by the percentage of people with a body mass index above the healthy 25.

Councillor Steven Cole, independent councillor for Canvey Island Winter Gardens, is a regular user of the leisure centre.

He said: “It is a lovely facility and I go once a week to practise for my charity bike ride challenge.

“I am not surprised by the huge amount of support from the community. I would encourage as many people as possible to make use of it.”