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Leisure centres FAQ July 31

Our Customer Service Centre on Southfield Road is now open for essential enquiries by appointment only. Please be aware that it is mandatory for face coverings to be worn on the premises. More information, including how to make an appointment, can be found in this news story.

Here are some frequently asked questions regarding the situation with the leisure centres in Charnwood.

The questions were published on July 31, 2020

1. When will the leisure centres open?

Soar Valley is due to open on August 8 and South Charnwood on August 10. Loughborough will open after that, but a date has yet to be finalised.

2. Why is there no date for Loughborough?

Reopening Loughborough Leisure Centre will have a significant financial impact on the Council and therefore a formal decision needs to be taken by the Cabinet. Cabinet is meeting on August 13.

3. You have known the leisure centres will be allowed to reopen at some point so why are you not ready to reopen now?

Fusion, the Council’s leisure centre operator, has been developing their plans to reopen centres informed by the latest guidance as it was issued by the government and industry bodies. The Council received Fusion’s initial proposals on June 12, 2020.

The government’s announcement to allow gyms and swimming pools to reopen from July 25 was received on July 9. Updated guidance for the reopening of leisure centres was only issued on July 17which Fusion has been assessing and making amendments to their established plans taking account of the guidance given.

Fusions plans include the following: -

  • Building preparation
  • Technical Compliance
  • Staff and Customer Safety
  • PPE & Social Distancing
  • Staff training
  • Reconfigurations of activity areas
  • Cleaning programmes
  • Capacity
  • Booking process

Fusion has continued to undertake key technical tasks to safeguard the Councils leisure centres whilst they have been closed, ensuring plant and equipment is in good order for the reopening.

Fusion also had to furlough staff protect the organisation’s viability and therefore it takes time to recall employees under this government scheme.

While we acknowledge some people would like to have seen the centres reopening on July 25, we are working very hard to bring the services back as soon as possible and our priority is making sure the leisure centres are safe for customers and staff.

4. When will the swimming pools reopen?

We will be in a position to announce the reopening of the swimming pools once the Cabinet decision is known, but it is likely to be in the coming weeks.

5. Why is Loughborough the last to open?

Loughborough Leisure Centre is a bigger centre and will require more financial support from the Council. That means a decision needs to be taken by Cabinet on August 13.

6. Why is Loughborough more expensive to run, surely being in the town means there are more people to use it?

Loughborough has two swimming pools and therefore the base costs are higher. Also, in recent years there has been significant competition from other gyms in the town.

7. Other leisure centres have opened, why not the Charnwood ones?

Councils use different operators or run leisure centres themselves and each set-up is different. Therefore, it is difficult to compare.

Not all leisure centres have re-opened and across the country a number might remain closed. Local Government and the industry have been warning of the risks to leisure centres posed by the new operating environment with increased costs and less income.

8. Can the Council not take over the running of the centres?

The Council and Fusion have worked together for nine years and it has been a very successful partnership. The leisure centres have previously generated an income for the Council.

However, the pandemic has severely impacted the whole leisure industry which has essentially had very little or no income for the past four months. Customer numbers are expected to be significantly lower due to market conditions, customer hesitation and the limitations on how many people can visit the leisure centres at one time.

Putting that all together, leisure centres, and councils, are in a very difficult situation. The Council could resume the direct operation of the leisure centres, but independent analysis shows that would likely be more expensive and the current contract has operated very well for Fusion and taxpayers. It has unfortunately been hit hard by the pandemic. There could also be legal issues relating to the Council’s contract with Fusion.

9. Why has the membership price not changed if the swimming pools are closed?

We have asked Fusion to review the current fees taking account of the current limitations on swimming but also intend to get the swimming pools open again a soon as possible.

10. Are leisure centres expensive to run?

They are, particularly when they include swimming pools which are expensive to heat and staff. A significant part of the costs of running a leisure centre is heating. Other costs include staffing, maintenance and cleanliness.

11. When will courts, pitches, soft play and swim school restart?

Fusion is currently looking at how these activities may restart.

There are some more handy FAQs on Fusion’s website: https://bit.ly/2BLrLtb

12. How much income did the Council expect from the management contract in 2020.21?

The council’s accounts had made provision for £236,200 in management fee from Fusion

13. How much has the Council paid to FUSION to maintain the centres while they have been closed? 

The Council has paid £73,600 to date and has approval for a further payment of £73,600 which totals £147,200 for April to July 2020

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Last updated: Fri 31st July, 2020 @ 16:10