Councillors call for “urgent action” over Borough’s leisure centres

Robinson Pool
Robinson Pool is one of eight venues run by Fusion Lifestyle in Bedford and Kempston.

Bedford Borough’s Conservative Councillors have called for the council to take “urgent action” to end what they call “the lingering uncertainty over the future of its leisure services contractor, Fusion Lifestyle.”

The calls come after it was revealed that the beleaguered leisure operator had asked for taxpayers’ cash to help them reopen the eight leisure facilities it runs on behalf of Bedford Borough Council.

“The experiment with outsourcing the Borough’s leisure services to Fusion has proved a flop,” said Conservative Group Leader, Cllr Graeme Coombes.

“Conservative Councillors have repeatedly questioned Fusion’s ability to deliver, and time and again Fusion has failed and we have been proved right.”

As we reported last week, Bedford Borough Council is in talks with Fusion over the management of the eight of their leisure facilities.

Both sides have remained tight-lipped over exactly what these talks entail.

Read: Fusion ask taxpayers for “financial support” amid leisure centre fiasco

Users of the Borough’s leisure centres have also been left in the dark through lack of communication around cancelled classes and membership fees.

Fusion’s contract is due to end in 2024, and there has been significant dissatisfaction recently at how they are managing publicly owned facilities here.

Read more:

Create “an arms-length trust”

Bedford’s Conservative Councillors now say the failure of Fusion is “so serious”, the council should take back control, establishing “a trust or other arms-length body” to manage the leisure centres.

“In addition to the poor contract, users of the Borough’s swimming pools and sports centres feel short-changed by the shabby facilities and uncertainty over when cancelled exercise classes will resume,” added Cllr Coombes.

“Fusion has been a disaster for residents of Bedford from beginning to end.

“It’s time we cut Fusion loose and found a way to bring leisure services back under Borough Council management, whilst ensuring that there is no additional cost to Council taxpayers as a result,” he said.

Speaking about the talks with Fusion, Cllr Doug McMurdo, Portfolio Holder for Leisure said: “As a Council we are doing all we can to try and find a solution that works for residents and users of the leisure centres, that is safe and financially viable for everyone.

“We look forward to Fusion confirming the safe reopening of the sites soon and look forward to seeing the facilities in use again.”

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