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Raising levels at centre

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It is six months since a private company took over the management of Bingham Leisure Centre, sparking concerns about falling standards and rising prices.

But the new managers say they are committed to changing the facility for the better.

Bingham was one of Rushcliffe Borough Council’s five leisure centres to be taken over by Parkwood Leisure Ltd in August.

It was the successful applicant from four companies shortlisted for the opportunity to take over the borough-wide contract.

Since the change, the company has been criticised for changing membership packages, the closure of the créche and a lack of cleaning and maintenance.

The assistant manager at the Bingham centre, Mr Julian Withington, said: “It is always hard to take criticism but we have ways to improve, to learn from where we are going wrong.

“If someone is unhappy you tend to get the feedback but this is not so true if they are happy.

“We are six months into a ten-year contract. We are just getting going.

“The staff have really worked hard with the change from Rushcliffe to Parkwood. We will respond to anything that needs to be done.”

Customer forums will be held twice a year as well as a monthly manager’s question time for customers to raise any problems.

One of the biggest issues has been the changes to membership prices, which were introduced this month.

Parkwood Leisure now offers two membership packages instead of six.

The first, costing £32 a month, covers the fitness suite, swimming, classes, badminton, squash, tennis and halfprice run riot at Rushcliffe Arena.

The other costs £16 a month and covers swimming and the centre’s two aqua exercise classes.

Previously, membership for those who used one facility cost £25 a month while those using two paid £28.

The changes apply to new members only. Previous membership packages, prices and discounts will remain for existing members indefinitely.

The Advertiser reported at the end of last year that some of the customers were also unhappy with the cleanliness of the centre.

Mr Withington said as a result, the whole cleaning programme had been revised.

The centre is now cleaned twice a day, in the afternoon as well as when it opens in the morning.

Mr Withington said two cleaners were employed but other members of staff also took on these responsibilities.

“It’s a whole team effort,” he said.

“We inspect the pool changing rooms every 15-30 minutes. The gym changing rooms are cleaned twice a day but the instructors do inspect them regularly.”

Mr Withington said it was particularly difficult to keep the changing rooms clean at this time of year because it was often wet and people brought in mud from outside.

He said they would soon be enforcing a formal inspection system where staff would have to inspect the changing facilities at an allocated time and sign a sheet. This would be put up for customers to see.

Mrs Kate Hill (49) of Caythorpe Road, Caythorpe, has been using the gym at Bingham for ten years.

She said:“I really like it. It has been refurbished twice since I have been here. I have never noticed it not being clean.

“There are sometimes tissues and things on the floor of the changing room and the shower cubicle can be a little dirty but never that I couldn’t use it.

The leisure centre’s weekly créche closed in November when a member of staff left.

Although, many users were upset about its closure, Parkwood Leisure said it had made alternative arrangements with day care providers in Bingham.

Another area of concern has been that customers often have to queue at the reception desk while waiting to be served.

But Mr Withington said they had looked at their booking system to determine when their busiest periods were and a second receptionist would be on duty at those times.

He said they would also be looking to increase the number of places on offer for some of the exercise classes because there had been complaints that these were often fully booked.

“It’s great that our classes are full. It shows us that they’re popular and where we have the capacity to increase our classes we will do,” he said.

Mr Withington said they had also started to offer free swimming sessions for children on the centre’s swimming scheme, Aquazone.

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