The closure of Auchinleck Leisure Centre has been pushed back until after the New Year, according to council officials.

Residents of the village were angered by the decision to close the centre, which was announced by East Ayrshire Council (EAC) last month.

Initially, the centre was due to close by the end of November, with a petition being launched and meeting being held to try and reverse the decision.

Alongside the planned closure of the leisure facility, the former Auchinleck Academy building is due to be demolished next year.

The council said closing the centre would save the authority £400,000 a year in running costs, as well as the £6.5 million in capital investment it said would be needed to retain the facility.

Cumnock Chronicle: Rona Hunter, right, set up the meeting to reverse the decision last month.Rona Hunter, right, set up the meeting to reverse the decision last month. (Image: Charlie Gilmour)

Council officials have now said that the decision to delay the closure will "allow more time to ensure a smooth transition for all current users to their proposed alternative locations / arrangements".

When the closure plan was announced, the authority said Merlin Park in Auchinleck would be fitted with a 3G pitch and floodlights to plug the gap left by the closure of the pitch at Auchinleck Academy.

Auchinleck Talbot will move their training base to this new Merlin Park pitch, according to EAC bosses.

READ MORE: Auchinleck residents voice their anger at plan to close the leisure centre

Upgraded lighting at the former Auchinleck Academy will be moved to Loudoun Leisure Centre, which also requires upgrading. 

Announcing the delayed closure, an EAC spokesperson said: "An email has been sent to representatives of the user groups to advise that the council will be extending implementation of the closure of the facility to January 31, 2024 at the latest.

"Council officers will continue to engage with all users and alternative providers in order to deliver that outcome and within that context will seek to address, so far as reasonable and appropriate, the issues of concern which have been raised in order to minimise the impact of relocation on current users of the facility."