Across South Hams and West Devon, some of the Councils’ leisure centres have been able to open and some have been able to provide limited facilities.
This has left many residents trying to understand what the challenges are for the provider Fusion Lifestyle, and why some centres can open and others can’t.
Both councils appreciate how frustrating this must be, but would like to reassure users that they are doing everything they can to help the facilities to be up and running as quickly as possible.
Fusion Lifestyle, the Councils’ contractor, have now made it possible for current members at any one of the closed centres, to use any of the open centres from this Thursday. In addition to this, any member wanting to reactivate a membership and move it from a closed to an open centre can do so with immediate effect.
Across the South Hams and West Devon from Tuesday 1 September, there will be four centres open, offering access to four gyms and three pools. These facilities allow customers to access a variety of activities in multiple locations.
While most businesses have been supported in some way by Central Government, leisure providers have not received any funding, other than the furlough scheme and the availability of loans. The Covid-19 pandemic and a lack of central government support have created very challenging conditions for all leisure providers.
Throughout the lockdown, Fusion for example, has continued to maintain the centres to safeguard them whilst they have been closed. Many of their staff were also on the furlough to protect the organisation’s viability.
This is a national issue, the industry predicts that usage figures are likely to be about 60% down on usual after reopening, and 40% down by the end of the financial year. Some of that may be due to social distancing, but there might also be concern from some users who do not feel comfortable exercising indoors.
COUNCILS TAKE ACTION
Both Councils recognised that they have to do something, West Devon offered Fusion a £97,000 support package and South Hams provided £88,000. In September, they will be undertaking a strategic review of their financial position and the impact of the Covid crisis. By then the Councils will also know if any support has been forthcoming from Central Government for the leisure industry.
The Councils also continue to lobby MPs and Central Government for funding. They are supporting the #SaveLeisure campaign launched by Community Leisure UK urging the UK Government to commit relief funding to enable the full reopening and recovery of the public leisure sector.
Conversations continue on a daily basis about the facilities that remain closed and users are urged to keep in close contact with both Fusion and the Councils’ social media feeds for updates.
South Hams, West Devon and Fusion would like to thank users for their patience and welcome their continued support.
Anthony Cawley, Director of Operations for Fusion Lifestyle Said: “We know our leisure facilities are really important for the health and well-being of the local community and we have been working in partnership with South Hams District Council and West Devon District Council to get them open again as soon as they are safe and viable to do so.
“We are continuing to review our plans for the remaining facilities and will open these when they are safe and viable to do so. We hope the residents of Devon will bear with us whilst we implement our reopening plans and they can soon enjoy their centres once again.”
FAQ’s from Fusion Lifestyle
We feel that the current opening hours provide a good opportunity for customers to maximise use of the centre and for us to run the most efficient model possible. We have based the financial projections on these opening times, we can review these on a monthly basis and discuss as part of the monthly client meeting, reviewing customer demand and operational affordability.
We are now managing more communication at a contract level, with General Managers and the Business Manager (Peter King) responding to customer feedback and complaints. The centres have started to post local content to social media channels and respond to customer comments being received, the centres are also reacting to comments collected from the user experience survey (TRP) and feedback via the website, whilst also dealing with customers on a face to face in the centres. These changes are helping to react to customer feedback faster and keep customers informed on all aspects of the service.
We will provide an updated communication plan with the next messages to be released.
Members with a live status will be able to access other centres from Thursday this week. Any customer wanting to reinstate a membership from a closed centre can do so with immediate effect by contacting the chosen centre e.g. A Meadowlands member can start using Parklands, members wishing to stay on freeze can do so until their home centre reopens.
We are now operating the core service of the membership entitlement and believe that we are able to provide the key activities to justify the full membership subscription.
We have also introduced some new cost effect memberships such as gym and swim for just £30 a month The centre team are on hand to help all customers to select a different membership type based on the customer’s needs. From the 1st September we will have 4 centres open, offering access to 4 gyms and 3 pools, which allows customers to access a variety of activities in multiple locations.
Swim School Membership
We are currently working through the best options to reinstate a swim school offer and have just launched the new family swim activities that have been well received.
We are updating the website today regarding an updated swim school message, we hope to be in a position to start offering some swimming lesson by the end of September as yet this is not confirmed but is our ultimate aim.
The process is still in the proposal stage and gaining feedback from staff, Union reps and key Fusion team members, we anticipate releasing updates to staff where we have a definitive outcome in the next few weeks, whilst other job families will continue to be under collective consultation until the proposal is finalised and an outcome is decided. Whilst the collective consultation is ongoing, we will start to offer individual consultations for those roles with a definitive outcome.
Sports & Community Development Service
The staff structure and proposal for this service is under review and as yet a proposal is due in the fourth coming weeks. W are making contact with block bookers and hires to see what individual requirements may be and start to plan if there is a way to integrate these back into the centre whilst also provide the key benefits to members. We are in the process of discussing with local swim clubs water space required, operating in the COVID safe environment and reviewing potential water space outside of the existing operating hours (8am – 8pm Mon – Fri and 8am to 4pm Sat – Sun). The exercise referral programme is currently on hold as a scheduled activity, yet customer can still access and use the centres outside this programme.
Ivybridge Leisure Centre
On Monday 3 August Ivybridge Leisure Centre opened, this included the reopening of the new six lane swimming pool with the retractable roof and sundeck, which has been recently completed, and the dry-side fitness activities and gym.
Quayside Leisure Centre
On Monday 10 August, Quayside Leisure Centre, Kingsbridge opened with just the dry-side fitness activities and the gym in the centre at Kingsbridge.
Dartmouth Leisure Centre
This centre will remain closed for the next 2 months and the current funding package from the Council will cover mothballing costs. Conversations with the Dartmouth Pool Trust are taking place with Fusion.
Totnes Leisure Centre,
Fusion are also the operator of Totnes Leisure Centre, however they are contracted by Tadpool and not the District Council, as such any decision on reopening remains between those two parties. Fusion have agreed to open the full centre on 1st September, Tadpool Trust have provided mothball costs for July and start costs to open the centre, with ongoing financial input up until March’21 to the value of £79k
Parklands Leisure Centre,
On Monday 17 August Parklands Leisure Centre, Okehampton opened with dry activities and wet to follow later in the week
Meadowlands Leisure Centre,
Tavistock will remain closed for the next 2 months.