West Swindon resident Bev Cejer is calling on Swindon councillors to represent the views of people who use Link Centre to GLL who took over Swindon Council leisure centres in November 2014, and wants users of the centre to attend the next meeting of the West Swindon Forum to discuss plans for a major change of use of the sport hall.
GLL have declared that they want to convert the sports hall into a 1,200 square metre trampoline centre which means closing the large climbing wall which was funded with support of a £75,000 Sport Lottery grant.
All the sports groups and activities that have used the sports hall since the centre opened thirty years ago will either have to close or be relocated at other GLL run leisure centres in the borough.Two petitions are currently in operation to try and save the climbing hall and to preserve the multi-sport nature of the sport hall.
Via the council’s locality officer, Bev has written to the 9 councillors who represent the three wards in West Swindon to discuss the closure of facilities at the West Swindon Forum meeting on 8 June. She said: “As a long term Grange Park resident and Link Centre sports hall user I am really disappointed that the facilities are programmed for closure and fear it is only the start of major changes GLL are going to implement with little regard to residents and long term Link centre users.
“These closures are happening with little public consultation and our elected representatives appear to be doing to little to represent the interest of the community.
“The climbing wall is the only one in the area and a trampoline park with over twice as large as proposed at Link Centre is due to open at Kembury Park – do we really need two in the town? Link Centre’s sports hall is always busy – users are going to have to travel to play at other centres, which is not very green and will make if difficult for users who use Link Centre who don’t have transport.”
GLL, which is a not-for-profit leisure services trust, took over the running of Swindon Council’s leisure facilities under it’s Better Brand. In a statement published at SwindonLink.com they state: ‘This arrangement was prompted by the Council’s need to make significant savings over the next three years and will result in a saving of approximately £1.4 million in the annual subsidies it currently provides.
‘Both Swindon Council and GLL share the same objectives to increase sports and leisure participation, reduce health inequalities and improve social inclusion. As the UK’s largest leisure charitable social enterprise and a not-for-profit organisation, any financial surplus made by GLL is reinvested back into our services.
‘We do however need to be realistic about the costs and charges of each facility. Our choice has been that we need to refurbish and re-energise these facilities or they will close. Refurbishment works have already started at the Oasis Leisure Centre, which has seen new state-of-the-art gym equipment installed by GLL as well as improvements to the pool changing areas. To date we have committed an initial £3 million of investment of funds to enhance the leisure facilities and services across the borough.
‘Our goal is to offer high quality, affordable facilities that are accessible to all in the community so that we can strive to get more people more active more often. The trampoline park will be one of the very first of its kind to launch in the UK. We will be using the latest technology and equipment to provide some really exciting opportunities for the people of Swindon.
GLL has also stated that the trampoline facility will have an expected annual user uptake of over 65,000 to be set against low user levels of the climbing wall which is running at a financial loss. However, all staff formerly working on the wall will have the opportunity to be redeployed to other positions at Link Centre.
With regard to the loss of facilities as a result of the installation of the trampoline in the Link Centre’s sports hall, GLL say they have been in discussion with sport hall users and sports clubs to establish their needs so that they can be provided with the same standard of high quality amenities in other GLL operated leisure facilities in other parts of the town.
· the appointment of the chairperson for the year;
· public question time – an opportunity to meet newly elected councillors and ask questions about the council and its services
· an update on the work of the West Neighbourhood Police Team
Pictured top, members of the Swindon Badminton Club who launched the Save the Link Centre sports hall petition. Below, the Rock Huggers under 8s climbing club at Link Centre