IN a dramatic turnaround, Dromore Community Centre, only recently under threat of a reduction in its operating hours, will from April exercise an early-bird option and actually open an extra two and a half hours a week.

It is understood the move, part of a wider review of leisure centre operation across the district, follows initiatives by Dromore staff that over a period of just under four weeks last year saw a massive 253% increase in morning usage at the local centre.

From November 8 to December 3, 2011 Dromore Community Centre is understood to have logged 1,396 morning users, compared to just 395 for the same period in 2010.

Prior to the upsurge, the Community Centre faced having its 9am-10pm opening hours reduced to 12noon-10pm.

Now the district council has announced the centre will open half an hour earlier, at 8.30am, Monday to Friday, and close at the usual time of 10pm; there will be no change to its Saturday opening hours.

Rathfriland Community Centre, which currently opens at irregular times during the week, will also see increased opening of 8.5 hours a week – operating from 12 noon to 10pm Monday to Friday while remaining closed at weekends.

The opening hours at all other leisure sites will remain unchanged, save for Banbridge, which will see the only reduction, opening at 7am as usual but closing an hour earlier