Local resident petitions council to save Robinson Pool

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

A local resident has started a petition urging the Council to take back control of Robinson Pool to preserve its facilities for community use.

Sarah Bichener set up the Change.org petition after Fusion Lifestyle continued to take a retaining fee from its members, despite staying closed due to coronavirus precautions.

Fusion have run Robinson Pool and six other leisure sites in the Borough on behalf of the Council since 2014.

The beleaguered leisure provider has been hit hard by the coronavirus lockdown and announced a raft of redundancies across all its sites.

Read: Fusion Lifestyle confirm redundancies across all leisure sites in Bedford

Ms Bichener, who has been a member of Robinson Pool and gym for 13 years, said, “With redundancies being announced I can only see more of a decline, it is no longer a community facility.

Sarah Bichener Robinson Pool petition
Sarah Bichener has set up the petition to urge the Council to take back control of the community asset

“Many of the loyal staff (class instructors, fitness instructors, cafe staff and duty managers) are the reason why so many customers return and I fear without them and with the delayed opening there will be no customers left unless the council take action.”

Throughout the UK, leisure centres and gyms were allowed to reopen on 25 July, following government guidelines.

As reported in the Bedford Independent, Fusion Lifestyle sites remain closed.

Read: Council confirms Bedford leisure centres won’t reopen on 25 July

Sarah says that Fusion have failed to communicate with any of its members throughout the lockdown closure and have continued to take a ‘retaining fee’ but have not been in touch

The petition, which can be signed here, says:

‘Robinson pool and fitness is a local site donated by the Robinson family for the community.

‘Over the years it has been a place for many families to make memories, learn to swim, meet friends and get fit.

‘Since Fusion have taken over the site may have improved visually but they have not respected the ethos of the gift to the community.

‘Prices have increased regularly making many activities more costly than other private run facilities. The site has been run badly with short staff numbers and lack of customer care.

‘Whilst COVID-19 has affected many businesses, Fusion seem to have once again dealt with this badly.

‘The facility remains shut despite the government opening leisure facilities and actively encouraging looking after our health.

‘They have taken a retaining fee from gym members and swimming lessons customers, yet have not communicated as to their plans on reopening they plan to make staff redundancies which can only lead to even more problems at the site.

‘We the local community want to keep this facility open and in good order for use by all now and for the future, we therefore kindly request that Bedford Borough Council support the community and take the relevant action to save our site by taking control again!’

Robinson pool & gym
The gym remains closed

The petition has currently received over 700 signatures since it was set up this week and has been welcomed by local users of the pool.

One nearby resident said, “It’s appalling that operators are allowed to get away with running a sub-standard service on behalf of the Council.

“Because of a lack of staff, visitors often don’t get the full use of the facilities, despite paying for it.”

Cllr Doug McMurdo Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture said, “I welcome any petition on a subject that is close to people’s hearts and will always respond constructively and with sound evidence.

“We have taken note of customer satisfaction of Fusion over recent years whilst we need to acknowledge the current position is extraordinary.

“Bedford Borough Council is in regular contact with Fusion, discussing the options available across the various aspects of all of the leisure facilities within the Borough.

“The Council is facing challenges that are impacting the leisure sector, in common with many other local councils who provide leisure services.”

The leisure centre was gifted to the community of Bedford by local philanthropist, Sir David Robinson in 1969.

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