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Gloucestershire Business News

BREAKING NEWS: Swimming pool to re-open on restricted basis

Gloucester City Swimming Club will once again return to its home at GL1 from Monday, October 16.

It forms part of the phased reopening of the city's leisure facilities by Gloucester City Council and its partners after the provider Aspire Trust announced it was going into liquidation.

The Gloucester City Swimming Club has been based at the site since 1910 and coaches over 100 young people and children.

From Monday, the club's young swimmers will return for their regular training sessions on weekday evenings. In addition, a county gala event due to take place over the weekend of 20-22 October will now be able to go ahead.

The gala event will be run behind closed doors without spectators, competitors and officials only. It will be live-streamed to ensure audiences can watch the event.

Since Aspire announced it could no longer continue to run the city's leisure facilities the council has been working with local partners on a phased approach to reopening them until an alternative provider is appointed.

The facilities are currently being reopened up on a phased basis over the next few weeks with many clubs including local rugby, hockey and football teams already having returned to the outdoor pitches.

The pools will not be open for public swimming sessions until a new leisure service operator is able to restart them.

Councillor Andy Lewis, cabinet member for culture and leisure at Gloucester City Council, said: "I'm absolutely delighted that the swimming club who provide a fantastic service to our talented young people can return to their home. We're aware this has been a worrying time for them and I know they are over the moon to be going back.

"Opening up these facilities has been our number one priority and we are grateful for the support of the sporting community and our partners the University of Gloucestershire and Active Gloucestershire who have worked alongside us to find out what people need to be able to start training and playing matches again."

Abi Poyntz-Wright, chair of Gloucester City Swimming Club, said: "We are delighted to have been able to work closely with the council in order to get our training and Open Meets back up and running at GL1."

Prior to Aspire's announcement at the end of September, the council had understood that the trust would be willing to continue to operate until September 2024 and had begun looking for a new provider to take on the leisure services from that point.

The council was extremely disappointed when the Trust announced that it would not be able to continue, despite the council committing to the additional financial support that they had requested, adding up to over £1.5 million since 2019.

It is planned that all former Aspire employees recently made redundant will be given interviews by the new provider for any new roles, with the intention that as many as possible will be taken on.

Meanwhile, Gloucester City Council and the University of Gloucestershire are working together to reopen other leisure facilities in the city following the recent announcement by Aspire.

The leisure facilities are being reopened on a phased basis over the next few weeks until a new provider is appointed to take on the service.

From Monday, October 16, the University is set to return the Arena and its pitches to normal opening hours. Although the Arena had quickly reopened for teaching and training as well as matches for students and schools, it has since been closed to the public.

But the University is now able to honour existing bookings at the Arena and its 3G football and 4G rugby pitches, after putting in place additional staffing and arrangements.

The council's 2G and 3G pitches are now open for pre-booked matches, with rugby, football and hockey games all taking place.

This weekend the Park Run is set to return to Oxstalls, with grass pitch bookings for adult and youth football clubs already resumed. Existing bookings for the University's 3G and 4G football and rugby pitches will also go ahead.

Director of sport and wellbeing at University of Gloucestershire, Matt Tansley, said: "Like everyone else, the news that Aspire Sports and Cultural Trust had gone into liquidation came as a huge shock. Our thoughts are with everyone impacted by this news at this difficult time.

"The University takes seriously its commitment to supporting community wellbeing, and as such, we have moved quickly with Gloucester City Council to re-open our Arena and other facilities at Oxstalls and Plock Court for community use.

"We are looking forward to seeing the pitches and facilities filled with young people playing netball, hockey, football and rugby again, and sports teams and people of all ages training and taking part in sports activities in our facilities.

"We are working hard to make that a great experience, but it will take time to get things right as we adapt to taking over the running of these facilities. In the coming weeks, we'll be inviting clubs to meetings to discuss their requirements and provide feedback as we get back to a regular timetable."

Cllr Andy Lewis added: "We know the announcement from the Aspire Trust was a huge blow to local people and our sports community and we shared that concern and disappointment.

"We've been working flat out over the last two weeks alongside our partners and talking to local clubs to see how quickly we can get them back in for matches and training. Our key priority is now finding a new provider to take on the services and opening the facilities as soon as possible so that the public can return."

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