After a long wait and heavy criticism over lack of communication and delays to Bedford Borough’s leisure facilities reopening, it has been revealed Robinson Pool and Fitness Centre will reopen on 30 September.
Fusion Lifestyle and Bedford Borough Council say group exercise and gym sessions will begin again on Wednesday 30 September and the pool will open on Thursday 1 October.
“We are grateful for the patience shown by those who want to return to our gyms, pools and studios during this difficult period,” said Cllr Doug McMurdo, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture at Bedford Borough Council.
Fusion Lifestyle have come under increasing criticism from Bedfordians for keeping public leisure facilities closed while private facilities have been open for over two months.
Fusion under fire
Fusion recently asked the council for an undisclosed sum, which both sides refuse to reveal saying the figure is “commercially sensitive”.
Fusion maintain this is not “financial support” for them but for our own leisure services that “aren’t financially viable in the post COVID world.”
“The government have not allocated financial assistance to third parties running leisure facilities, even though many are run by charities such as ourselves,” said their spokesperson.
Fusion manage eight leisure facilities on behalf of the council. Their contract is due to end in 2024, but there have been calls for the contract to be cancelled early.
Opposition councillors have said there needs to be “urgent action” to end “the lingering uncertainty over the future of its leisure services contractor, Fusion Lifestyle.”
Fusion were put on notice of an improvement plan, which was gained off by full council in December 2019.
“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.”
Bedford and Kempston MP, Mohammad Yasin (Labour) has also called Fusion’s ability to run local facilities into question.
Mr Yasin said “It is important that Fusion Lifestyle are held to account over the management of the centres.”
Prior to the pandemic, Fusion were put on notice over the running of the Borough’s facilities.
Bedford Borough Council say that prior to March 2020 things were starting to improve.
However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, “circumstances have dramatically changed since,” said Cllr McMurdo.
New guidelines in place
The reopening will be in line with government guidelines.
Visitors will need to book and pay online to minimise contact with staff at the centre and register for track and trace easily.
People will also be asked to be ‘ready to go’ when they arrive.
Gym users will need to be in their gym gear when they arrive and swimmers will need to arrive with their costumes under their clothes.
A spokesperson for Fusion said that the new measures and “meticulous cleaning routines” will keep customers safe and “offer complete confidence to use the facilities when they return to the centres.”
Anthony Cawley, Director of Operations at Fusion added: We know our leisure facilities are really important for the health and wellbeing of the local community.
“We are really pleased that we are able to announce the opening of our facilities in a safe and viable way.”
If you wish to make a booking, or find out more, visit Robinson Pool’s website.
Mowsbury Golf Club is the only other facility almost fully open with Bedford International Athletic Stadium also open but only to Beds and County Athletic’s Club.
The remaining five publicly owned facilities remain closed.