BASINGSTOKE council has promised to work with a leisure centre management to resolve concerns following several complaints from residents and staff about its operations.

Tadley Health and Fitness Centre has recently introduced several changes including a new timetable, reduction in private lesson wages of swimming instructors, and a new system to book sessions.

The changes were received poorly by many members and staff of the centre who said it is “no longer helping the community”.

There have also been complaints about the higher temperature of the water in the pool due to an “issue with automatic setting which controls temperatures failing to function correctly”.

READ MORE: Swimmer complains of 'dangerous' heating of Tadley pool water

Following the complaints and previous reports by the Gazette, a Basingstoke councillor said “the strength of feeling about the facility shows just how valued it is by local people”.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s cabinet member for resident services Cllr Rebecca Bean said: “We are aware of the concerns raised by users and councillors about issues with Tadley Health and Fitness Centre.”

The centre is run by Serco Leisure on behalf of the Basingstoke and Deane Community Leisure Trust, which holds the lease for the building from the council.

Cllr Bean continued: “We will continue to work with the trust and Serco to ensure it serves the community well. We know this starts with getting the basics right and we have been working with Serco to respond to complaints about the cleanliness and standard of facilities at the well-used centre.

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“We are seeing a range of positive changes that we made clear must happen. These include 25 more hours of cleaning a week, a programme of maintenance work and the redecoration and refurbishment of areas including the health spa, gym and reception.

“Some of the health suite facilities are not reliable or not working and we are putting £170,000 into improving these facilities. This is part of well over half a million pounds we are investing in upgrading the centre over the next two years, which also includes replacing the movable floor to continue to give flexibility for a wide range of different activities, such as aqua aerobics, lifesaving, rehabilitation, and aqua-natal classes.”

Cllr Bean said the council is aware of some complaints around the temperature.

She added: “We do understand that pool temperatures are always a compromise to allow for the widest range of activities as they cannot be changed quickly. Serco has advised that the set temperature is 30 degrees centigrade, chosen following a trial period at a lower temperature that customers felt was too cold.

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“But there have been some issues caused by problems with the automatic control mechanism meaning fluctuations and some temporary higher temperatures. We have been reassured by Serco that they now believe this issue has been addressed and that this is being closely monitored.”

Following complaints about changes in timetables and booking system, Cllr Bean said: “We know that changes made to the programme have been unpopular with some users. These were aimed at trying to better meet the needs of the wider community and accommodate more swimmers. They will result in an additional 30 hours of swimming a week including four and a half extra hours for babies or toddlers, seven extra hours of family fun sessions and four extra hours for lane swimming. Should customers wish to, booking for all of the sessions can be done at the venue, over the phone or through the centre’s app.

“The revised programme creates time for more swimming lessons, enabling hundreds more people to be taught to swim each year than was previously possible. However, we are aware that concerns have been raised over the impact on private swimming lessons.

“There has also been a reduction in the ‘swimming for all’ leisure swim sessions to meet the demand for additional lane swimming. But, following feedback from customers, Serco has assured me they will reintroduce more of these sessions during the week and are currently adjusting weekday morning sessions as a temporary solution. They are recruiting more lifeguards to support permanent changes.”