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Gloucestershire Business News

University and Gloucester City Council to open up sport facilities at Oxstalls to wider community

University of Gloucestershire and Gloucester City Council are opening up sports facilities at Oxstalls to enable existing community users to continue to use the pitches for matches and training.

The Aspire Sports and Cultural Trust announced it was going into liquidation last Friday, leading to the sudden closure of the GL1 leisure centre and Oxstalls sports pitches, with the loss of around 150 jobs.

Yesterday, Punchline reported that Gloucester City Council was working with local partners to open the facilities on a phased approach  over the next few weeks, albeit on a reduced service initially.

The council is intending to bring in a new provider to take on the running of the services on a temporary basis until a long-term solution is in place.

While the University owns the Sports Arena and the all-weather rugby and football pitches at Oxstalls, these facilities were managed by Aspire outside of daytime hours.

The University has been able to swiftly take over responsibility for security, utilities and cleaning. This mitigated the immediate impact on students and staff as the Arena and pitches were still able to be used on weekdays for teaching, bookings by partner schools and for staff physical activity sessions in core hours.

Now those hours are being extended, enabling the University and Students' Union (SU) clubs to use the facilities up to 8pm during weekdays. All other sports and recreation facilities on university campuses are also open as usual, and no sports courses are impacted.

Re-opening the Sports Arena and all-weather pitches for community use at evenings and weekends - which was previously run by Aspire - is more challenging. However, the University says it is working hard to put in extra staffing and booking arrangements in community hours so that local people and clubs can continue to benefit from these facilities.

Any all-weather pitch bookings for this weekend (October, 7 and 8) and next weekend (October, 14 and 15) will be honoured, including the astro pitches at Plock Court, as long as teams have their own trained first aiders in place. The changing rooms at Plock Court are now available for limited use.

If clubs and groups can provide evidence of the booking and proof of payment to Aspire, they will not be charged again, at least for the immediate future.

Following positive discussions, the University has also agreed with Gloucester City Council that it will be able to take bookings for community use of all University facilities at Oxstalls from 16 October, 2023, as well as the astro pitches at Plock Court, for an interim period until at least the end of November - when the arrangement will be reviewed.

Stewart Dove, student registrar at University of Gloucestershire, 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 our local communities, and as such, our first step has been to move quickly to reinstate regular club bookings as a priority for both evenings and weekends. We are continuing to work closely with the city council to work through how all of our facilities can be made available for use by local people in the longer term."

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