Swindon Link backs the Save Oasis Swindon campaign

By Jamie Hill - 12 February 2021

Clubs & ActivitiesCommunity

Swindon Link editor Jamie Hill throws the magazine's weight behind the Save Oasis Swindon campaign.

Neil Robinson who is heading up the Save Oasis Swindon campaign

For me, and for thousands of others, The Oasis Leisure Centre evokes strong memories.

As a child there was nothing like that excitement as the the wave machine came on or the adrenaline rush of going down the Great White chute for the 15th time in a row. By the time your colour banded time had finished you would be rushing to get dressed to go on arcades whilst your parents had a coffee in the cafe.

Or watching live events there as a young man. Then as a father taking my children there and watching their faces light up with excitement as the iconic dome came into view.

For others the fitness aspects remained at the centre of their lives, the squash courts, the gym, and the main fitness hall.

So to hear that GLL had made the decision to not reopen it after lockdown was like a punch in the gut. This is why Swindon Link is throwing its weight behind the campaign to save The Oasis.

How can Swindon exist without The Oasis being at the centre of our lives? It is part of our cultural make-up and for a long time people would come from far and wide to visit the family entertainment venue. And even though, GLL had in recent years made moves to get it away from being a family entertainment venue, getting rid of the ever popular arcade machines for one, the swimming pool remained as glorious as it had ever been.

And so, along comes a man who has used The Oasis for years - Neil Robinson.

32-year-old Neil, of Rodbourne, has used The Oasis for all of his life and when he heard of GLL's decision he decided to do something about it and created campaign group Save Oasis Swindon. And the father of one has been amazed by the response.

He said: "This campaign has definitely captured the heart of the town and is definitely making waves. It just shows what this iconic building means to so many people and how empty Swindon would feel without it. One of the things I'm most proud of is that we've been able to get celebrity support from the likes of football legend and former Swindon player Chris Kamara, Mr Motivator and Olympic swimmers Rebecca Adlington, Sharon Davies, Stephanie Millward, and Jazz Carlin."

According to Swindon Borough Council, who have also expressed their support to save The Oasis, at the moment their hands are tied as far as the facility is concerned as the building still remains in the hands of the leaseholder GLL and it is hoped it will soon be back in the hands of SevenCapital, the owners, who will then be able to work with the council to come up with a plan for its sustainable future.

Council leader David Renard said: "There is no question that we won’t fight to save this irreplaceable part of our community. The Oasis is more than 40 years old and, despite SevenCapital having spent millions of pounds over the last few years to keep it going, it still requires many more millions to bring it up to modern standards and provide a leisure offer that is sustainable in the long-term. To put money into The Oasis to get it reopened as quickly as possible would be like pouring it down one of the swimming pool drains. We need a long-term plan.

"I would like to assure you that we are working hard behind the scenes with SevenCapital to come up with a solution which will safeguard the future of the Oasis for the next 40 years.

"At present GLL still has the lease and is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the Oasis and I know that discussions are taking place to enable the lease to be surrendered back to SevenCapital in the very near future. When GLL surrender its lease, SevenCapital will be responsible for the Oasis."

One aspect that Mr Robinson is particularly worried about is the fact that with the building standing empty for three months, there are things that need doing right now to keep it from going into too much disrepair.

He said: "There are things that need urgent attention like the ventilation and heating systems. They need to be switched back on, as condensation is already forming on the windows of the building. There are also roof leaks, and visible puddles inside. I've walked around the site and it is a disgrace that it is being neglected.

"We can't let this happen and we have to keep applying pressure through the campaign to make sure that it doesn't."

According to the council, GLL has assured them that the building is being kept secure and as soon as SevenCapital have control of the building back the maintenance will be taken care of.

Neil added: "Losing The Oasis is a disaster for Swindon and we should all be doing everything we can to make sure it is saved."

For more information about Save Oasis Swindon visit www.facebook.com/saveoasisswindon

Your Comments

Be the first to comment on this article

Login or Register to post a comment on this article

Registered in England & Wales. No: 4513027, Positive Media Group, Old Bank House, 5 Devizes Road, Old Town, Swindon, SN1 4BJ