Leisure centre reopens but Dunmow’s swimming pool shut until at least September
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Great Dunmow Leisure Centre is set to reopen today as coronavirus measures ease, but the indoor swimming pool is closed until September or longer, sparking community woes.
1Life runs the Great Dunmow Leisure Centre and Lord Butler Leisure Centre in Saffron Walden on behalf of Uttlesford District Council. The Mountfitchet Romeera Leisure Centre in Stansted, which they also run, is due to reopen on Monday, August 10 but does not have a pool.
A 1Life spokeswoman said: “We will not be opening our swimming pools at this stage as there is currently a lack of clear guidance from Swim England. We look forward to re-opening our pools as soon as we have clearer guidance.”
On their website, 1Life has told customers the pools will not reopen until September “at the earliest” and they are establishing safe ways of working and managing the wet environment within changing rooms.
The spokeswoman said the phased reopening will include changes to opening hours and delays opening activities such as instructor led group exercise classes. But she said rumours there were making redundancies were untrue.
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“Our team members are currently furloughed and have been since lockdown commenced, with a number of our team starting to return this week as we prepare for a phased re-opening.
“The remaining employees will remain on furlough until we have an increased operational requirement to re-engage them within the sites, this will be dependent on customers returning to the centres.
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“1Life are in the process of consulting with staff to vary certain contract terms which will allow greater flexibility to amend work patterns should the need arise in this uncertain time. Our team members are hugely valued and we look forward to welcoming them back as soon as possible along with our members.”
Amanda Simmons, club secretary of Dunmow Atlantis Swimming Club whose members range from age six to 63, said their 180 members want to get back into the pool - the sooner the better.
And she felt that Swim England’s guidance was very comprehensive.
“As a club we are very disappointed that the pool is not going to be reopened until September.”
She added: “Our members are concerned because they’ve been out of the pool for some months as it is. When the government said July we said woohoo! I’ve have had to tell them they will not be back soon. We have not been told if it’s going to be the beginning or the end of Sepember.
“We need to get the swimmers back in the water for competitions.”
Swimmer Betty Baker said many people relied on the pool for their wellbeing.
“I am desperate for the pool in Dunmow to reopen. I have Multiple Sclerosis and swim every morning to keep me mobile.
“Since Covid-19 lockdown my mental and physical health has got worse.”
Swim England said the news that Uttlesford pools remain closed is “disappointing”.
A spokesperson said: “On June 15, we published our Returning To The Pools guidance, which was produced following consultation with a number of key stakeholders and partners, including Sport England and Public Health England.
“It contains robust recommendations for operators, casual swimmers, lane swimming, family-fun sessions, club activity, teachers and those attending swimming lessons.
“It is a living, breathing document and is regularly updated as the latest scientific advice and Government guidelines change. It covers all aspects of aquatic activity and gives clarity for the sector to confidently and safely reopen.
“Pools across the country have been using the guidance as they look to reopen their facilities from this weekend and we will happily address any concerns the Lord Butler Fitness and Leisure Centre and the Great Dunmow Leisure Centre have so its members can return to the water as soon as possible.”