Newark and Sherwood District Council and Active4Today's response to Robert Jenrick's open letter regarding Southwell Leisure CentrePosted on: Wednesday, November 8, 2023
Following an open letter Robert Jenrick has posted on his social media channels, Councillor Paul Peacock, Leader of Newark and Sherwood District Council said, “Robert Jenrick has got his facts wrong. Southwell Leisure Centre is not closed and if he took the trouble to visit the centre he’d know that.
All the fitness suites, the gyms, the main sports hall, the outdoor football pitch, the squash courts - they are all open. It is the main swimming pool that has been closed to undertake investigations to establish the cause of water leaking from the pool. Even the small pool (the teaching pool) remains open so perhaps Robert Jenrick would apologise to all the customers, members of the public and staff that his misleading letter has confused. At this stage, we cannot say for definite when the main pool will re-open because we need to see what the investigations will reveal and what repairs are required. It’s also a complete nonsense to suggest that anything is being concealed from the public. Information about the pool closure has been displayed on social media and all customers were contacted in October, prior to the main pool being closed.
“I see that the Newark MP has also questioned the Council’s commitment to Southwell leisure centre, referring to his Government’s £40,000 allocation to support rising costs across all our leisure centres. While extra money is always appreciated, again, if he’d checked his facts and understood more about what’s involved in running leisure centres, he’d realise that £40,000 was a drop in the ocean. Only two weeks ago, the Council took a decision to invest £740,000 in additional maintenance works required at Southwell Leisure Centre. I’m not sure what clearer indication there could be of this Councils ongoing commitment to high quality leisure provision in Southwell.
“Finally, our MPs letter is frankly insulting to the Council, our leisure operator and to the volunteers who give their time freely to support the running of the centre. If he’d like to come and visit, he can see for himself what’s involved in maintaining a sixty year old building and put his energy into doing something constructive to help raise money for more improvements to the centre, rather than firing off a misleading letter to score cheap political points.”
Councillor Andy Freeman, Chair of the Active4Today Board, added “ I am extremely disappointed but unfortunately not surprised at Robert Jenrick’s misleading statements, particularly regarding the management of Southwell Leisure Centre which is frankly insulting. If Mr Jenrick was up to speed with what’s happening in his patch, he’d know that extensive repairs were required at Southwell leisure centre, something that some members of the previous Conservative administration had known about for a number of years. More importantly, the Council and Active4Today are working together with the leisure centre Trust to put things right.”
Andy Carolan Managing Director for Active 4Today said, “In response to Mr Jenrick’s recent open letter shared on social media, I can re-assure Southwell residents that Southwell Leisure Centre is not closed. Currently the main pool is temporarily closed while we undertake some more detailed safety inspections of the main pool only. This follows a recent building review which revealed that essential repairs were required. The teaching pool and all other facilities at Southwell Leisure Centre remain open as normal.
“The main pool closed to the public on 29 October and is being maintained as normal during this period meaning that it is being heated to a normal operating temperature and the chemical treatment is being kept at normal levels. In effect, during this period it is only the bathers that are missing. This allows us to ensure that the pool can operate safely before we can re-open to the public.
“Customer safety is of paramount importance to us, and we must look at the pressing and urgent repairs required. As we confirmed on our website, on social media and in emails to all our customers, we expect to be able to confirm a re-opening date within three weeks from today. Our original statement is on our website at www.active4today.co.uk/news
“With regards to the recent funding through the Government’s Swimming Pool Support Fund, the District Council’s application, which included Southwell Leisure Centre, was made on 11 August 2023 and, at this point, we didn’t know there were any urgent repairs required to the main pool, which only came to light following the building review. We are delighted to have received funding for the Dukeries Leisure Centre, Newark Sports and Fitness Centre and Southwell Leisure Centre and this money will help to offset the rising operational costs of leisure centres.
“Once again, I’d like to reiterate to our customers that it is only the main pool closed, all other facilities at Southwell Leisure Centre remain open including the teaching pool. The funding from the Government’s Swimming Pool Support Fund is great news and will be helpful to ensure leisure provision remains at the forefront of our delivery across Newark and Sherwood.”