Fusion moans media are “unfair” when reporting on their running of Bedford’s leisure facilities

Oasis swimming pool is often described as dirty and an eye-sore
Oasis swimming pool is often described as dirty and an eye-sore

A representative of Fusion Lifestyle, the company that runs Bedford borough’s leisure facilities has moaned that media reports of how they run the facilities is “unfair”.

Read: All our articles about Fusion

Fusion Lifestyle Ltd representatives gave an update on its service delivery and performance to yesterday’s Environment and Sustainable Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee (21 April).

The company currently manages Robinson Pool and Leisure Centre, Kempston Pool, Oasis Leisure Pool, Bedford International Athletic Stadium and the John Bunyan Sports and Fitness Centre. They also look after Mowsbury Park Golf Complex and Kempston Outdoor Centre.

Cllr Graeme Coombes (Conservative, Wilshamstead Ward) told the meeting that as a councillor he wants to support Bedford borough’s facilities.

Read: Council continues to defend Fusion contract despite ongoing calls for change

But having sat through a number of discussions about the management of the leisure facilities he has a very negative perception of Fusion Lifestyle.

“If we look at your Net Promoter Score, which was +12, which we have to admit is not a great Net Promoter Score,” he said.

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a customer loyalty and satisfaction measurement taken by asking customers how likely they would be to recommend a product or service to others.

“It scores quite poorly on cleanliness, changing rooms facilities and the showers,” he said.

“This mirrors a lot of the public discussion that has gone on around Fusion.

Read: “It looks disgusting” anger as Oasis Swimming Pool continues to let Bedford down

“Fusion has a quite a negative perception in the public eye, certainly in the media that I have seen.

“How are you actually getting over that negative perception of Fusion in order to actually get people back to use the facilities?” he asked.

Cllr Graeme Coombes
Cllr Graeme Coombes, leader of the Bedford Conservative Group

“Press is a little unfair”

Steve Rose, senior business development manager at Fusion Lifestyle, said: “I think some of the press is a little unfair.

“I’m not saying for a second that we’ve got everything right, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that.

“But in terms of the NPS scores, I think +12 is actually not a bad score, anything positive is a good score.

“Based on the fact that if you score six or below that detracts from it, and if you score seven or eight a lot of people would see as a generous score.

Mr Rose explained that the overall score is based on scores of six and below and nine or ten, the scores of seven and eight are discarded.

“In terms of cleanliness, it is one of the highest negative scores but it’s also it scores higher from the positive scores,” he said.

“More people score it nine or ten than who are scoring it at six or below.

Cleaning rotas reviewed

Mr Rose explained that Fusion’s measurement system allows the company to deep dive into the NPS data.

So, for example, analysts can see if a trend is impacting how cleanliness is being rated.

“One of the things that we found when we first reopened from Covid was a lot of the cleanliness issues were related to other gym users not following Covid rules, not cleaning the equipment properly [after use], things like that,” Mr Rose said.

“We also found a trend that during busy times, which generally speaking was between 4 and 6, 4 and 7 on an evening when its swim school.

“That was when the centres were getting a lot of negativity around the cleanliness levels.

“We have reviewed cleaning rotas, we’ve also implemented a new dedicated cleaning position.

“And you’re right, it is perception, if people see someone cleaning a changing room, even if it’s not clean, people will think that it’s clean, that something is being done, it’s being dealt with,” he said.

Editor comment

It’s not often we add opinion to our articles, the Bedford Independent ethos has always been to provide you with the facts in a balanced article so you, our readers, can make your own minds up.

Mr Rose may well feel media reports about Fusion Lifestyle are unfair, however, they’ve all got one thing in common, they’re factual.

Bedfordians have come to us time and again with complaints about dirty changing rooms, poor management of their own and other’s classes, and lack of communication.

We have always offered Fusion a right to reply, they have not always accepted that offer.

Their NPS may well be in the positive at 12, but when you consider that score is out of 100 they have a long way to go.

Bedford Borough Council has maintained they’re trying their best to manage Fusion’s improvement and it still represents the best option for providing Bedfordians with quality leisure services.

Speaking to the Bedford Independent in 2019, Cllr Doug McMurdo, who oversees leisure and culture across Bedford Borough, said the relationship with Fusion has been “tense over time”.

In the meantime, if Mr Rose thinks what we report is unfair then there’s a simple way Fusion can change that.

by John Guinn Local Democracy Reporter
and Bedford Independent’s Paul Hutchinson

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