Leisure Centres across South Somerset set to welcome customers back

| Your Area South

It’s great news for gym and leisure centre users in South Somerset with LED Community Leisure operated facilities set to reopen their doors to customers from Saturday.

Facilities will open to customers from 8am on Saturday at Goldenstones and Westlands in Yeovil, as well as Wincanton Sports Centre. However, we have had to take the practical decision to keep the pools at Goldenstones and Wincanton closed for just a few more weeks.

As a District Council, we are slowly but surely reopening our services that had to close due to Covid-19. Government timelines have dictated some of the reopenings, but facilities that have recently reopened to the public include the use of our play areas, recreational facilities such as pitch & putt at Yeovil Recreation Centre plus our café facility at Yeovil Country Park.

Whilst many facilities have reopened and leisure centres are reopening from Saturday, the swimming pools at Goldenstones in Yeovil, and Wincanton Sports Centre are set to remain closed until at least September, subject to review. We fully understand that many residents will be keen to get their feet wet again, but most operators will be taking a similar measured approach to reopening leisure facilities.

For gym members of most LED Community Leisure run centre, you will still be able to use the gym facilities, but again, things will be very different and you are encouraged to download the ‘LED Leisure’ app and refer to recent emails from LED. Measures have been put in place at all centres to ensure gym users’ risk of infection is reduced including social distancing, limiting the time in the gym, more cleaning products available for use, pre-booking sessions via the app and having a one-way system in place.

Why are you keeping the swimming pool shut?

In order to comply with Government guidance, swimming provision will look very different in many leisure centres when they reopen including restricted access to changing rooms and being required to book ahead and arrive ‘swim ready’. 

As with the re-opening of high streets, we fully expect some people to be cautious about returning to the pool initially and this will have a big impact on income. Initially our pools will only be able to accommodate half as many swimmers as normal due to social distancing and our operator will require significant financial support from the Council to support them to reopen safely.

These additional costs could not have been foreseen at the beginning of the year and have therefore not been budgeted for. Despite this, the Council is fully committed to financially supporting its leisure operator to reopen, but like many other authorities, it has decided to reopen facilities in a phased manner. When our pools are expected to reopen in September, we want to be fully confident that all the risks from reopening can be managed safely and we are able to apply the learning acquired from the earlier reopening of the dry side facilities.

The situation is likely to look different right across the country as some facilities have decided to remain closed for a longer period of time and some facilities may not reopen at all where they are no longer viable.

What will you be doing whilst I can’t swim?

Our operator will be making sure that staff will be correctly trained who are poolside, including the lifeguards. On top of that, this is a perfect opportunity for the Council to undertake an assessment of the building and if any immediate works need to be undertaken, we can do that safely whilst there are no customers in the pool and reduce the chances of the centre being closed later in the year for work.

It’s the Summer Holidays and I really just want to take my child swimming.

We fully understand the timing of this isn’t great, however, most leisure operators will not be able to open swimming pools until August at the earliest – some have delayed the decision by a few weeks and some by a few months for all things to be considered. If you are desperate to go for a swim, we would advise you to search for other local swimming pools that may be open a little earlier than ours.

This is a perfect opportunity for you to explore some of our other facilities such as Yeovil Recreation Centre, Ham Hill Country Park, Yeovil Country Park or you can venture further afield to Chard Reservoir. We’ve also got some great activities for children to take part in online. Oh, and also keep an eye out for details of our new PlayBox experience coming near you soon!

When will Goldenstones and Wincanton pools open?

Our operator, LED Community Leisure, are gearing up to reopen in September, subject to review. That gives the operator plenty of time to bring the pools back up to temperature, update lifeguard training, and also time to evaluate and apply the learning gained from the reopening of gym facilities. It also allows the Council to undertake any maintenance works required.

Councillor Mike Best, portfolio holder for Health & Wellbeing at South Somerset District Council, said: “Everybody has felt the effect that Covid-19 has had and the services that we the District Council operate have sadly been affected over the last few months. We understand that a lot of people just want some normality back in their lives, especially with school Summer Holidays now upon us, but we cannot take the risk of opening the swimming pool when we are not yet ready to do so. We need to ensure we have every measure possible in place to ensure we comply with all Covid regulations. We hope to be able to keep the doors of the centres open constantly once it does reopen.”

You can find out more about the services that LED Community Leisure provide and where online at www.ledleisure.co.uk. We’ll keep you up to date when we have a date for the swimming pool reopening and hope to welcome you back as soon as it is safe to do so.

Thank you. You response is appreciated.

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