A SWIMMING club has been forced to close after more than 50 years after being told there was no space for them at Uttoxeter Leisure Centre. Uttoxeter Amateur Swimming Club, which has been running in the town for more than 50 years, was forced to close for 18 months due to the Covid-19 pandemic and is now unable to re-open. The news follows concerns raised by residents over the provision of fitness classes at Uttoxeter Leisure Centre.
Glenys Hoptroff at the swimming club said: “It is with sadness that we are announcing the closure of Uttoxeter Amateur Swimming Club after over 50 years.
“After lockdown due to Covid restrictions, the leisure centre was unable to offer the club a time space and so it has been decided after 18 months closure that the club will not re-open.
“The club thanks and best wishes go to all teachers, helpers, swimmers and parents, past and present for their hard work and support over the years.”
Residents are calling for a review of services, as many are paying full membership but are unable to access fitness sessions, with the majority of in-person classes having long waiting lists.
Leisure centre member, Ray Burge, said: “Over the last two years they have decimated the incredibly popular – oversubscribed – instructor-led classes in favour of ‘virtual’ classes which barely anyone uses.
“Worse still, members who paid upfront have been relegated – with worse terms – behind monthly payers, causing problems trying to secure spaces at the oversubscribed classes.
“Having complained, I am unable to leave without losing the substantial payment made upfront as they have refused to refund.
“Several popular classes have ended and instructors have left. They claim to be looking for instructors but there is no evidence of recruitment.
“I believe that the council are due to renegotiate the contract soon and we deserve proper coaching and instruction and not this constant decline in value for our membership.
“The instructors that remain are excellent, ensuring classes are performed safely and provide excellent coaching, but far too few classes.
“Virtual classes are repetitive and the risk of injury – as they are unsupervised – is high.”
Uttoxeter Leisure Centre is run by Everyone Active a non-profit group which has a 10-year contract to run the centre on behalf of East Staffordshire Borough Council (ESBC).
Simon Morgan is contract manager for Everyone Active. He said: “Due to the impact of the pandemic and the need to enforce social distancing, we were unable to put on as many group exercise classes as we would have liked following the relaxation of restrictions in May.
“However, as measures have eased, we have increased our programme and are now up to 3,000 visits in the past three months.
“Some classes are extremely popular, but with 66 instructor-led and virtual classes a week and a wide variety of activities available within that, we believe there is something for everyone.
“Our aim is always to meet the needs of the local community and we will continue to review our offering with that in mind.
“In line with the return of swimming lessons in August last year, we reconfigured our swimming lesson timetable in order to ensure social distancing could be observed.
“Unfortunately, this meant that Uttoxeter ASC’s Monday evening session could not be accommodated due to the increased time required to get children and adults safely in and out of the centre, and our busy pool programme meant we could not move the session to a different evening.
“We are sorry that we could not accommodate Uttoxeter ASC but hope the club’s members will continue to attend the centre and utilise the swimming facilities.”
A spokesperson for ESBC said: “The partnership between the council and Everyone Active commenced on February 1, 2019 for an initial 10-year term, with the option to extend for a further five years.
“Where Everyone Active’s customers have comments on the services provided from the leisure centres, they have a range of feedback mechanisms in place for these to be considered and responded to.
“The council continues to work closely with Everyone Active to monitor the contract outcomes, including the ongoing recovery from the impact of the required service changes arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.”
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