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Shropshire Council to start phased reopening of leisure centres

By Rory Smith | Much Wenlock | News | Published:

Shropshire Council is set to start a phased reopening of some of its leisure centres next week following major refurbishments.

Church Stretton Leisure Centre

From Monday, venues in Bishop’s Castle, Church Stretton, Much Wenlock and at Roman Road in Shrewsbury are set to reopen, but customers should expect things to look a little different.

To comply with government guidelines, the ventilation systems at all sites have been upgraded, while repairs and general maintenance have also been carried out.

Staff are still working to reopen Idsall Sports Centre in Shifnal and the council said announcements will be made "in due course" about a potential opening date.

In Bishop's Castle, Save the SpArC Trust have funded the purchase of new group exercise bikes which have been installed and, in partnership with Shropshire Council, have spent £58,000 on repairs, maintenance and new equipment.

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Jean Shirley of the trust said: “We know that all supporters of SpArC will be delighted at the news – particularly as it includes classes, gym and the pool – and will be queuing to book. It will bring a bit of normal life, as well as increased fitness, to lots of people.”

Peter Davis, leisure services manager at Shropshire Council, said: "We took the opportunity during closure to make some improvements to the facility, and I’d like to thank the Save the SpArC Trust for its support and generosity in funding new equipment, which we’re sure our customers will make great use of."

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In Church Stretton the swimming pool will be reopening with a limited capacity while the final repair works are completed.

David Betton of the Stretton Pool Action group said: “Thank you to the team and all the people who have been involved in getting the leisure centre ready for reopening.

“Having experienced the good and bad ways some businesses have prepared for opening, it is incredible what the team have achieved.”

Mr Davis said: "During the closure we were also able to continue with repairing the roof of the swimming pool and we’re pleased that we are able to reopen it for local swimmers. There is still some work left to complete, so please bear with us just a little longer."

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One-way systems

When visiting all leisure centres, customers will see increased signage, sanitiser stations, and reduced numbers of people using the facilities at one time. Group exercise classes will be relocated to sports halls from small dance studios, with social distancing areas clearly marked out.

One-way systems and clear safety information signs will be put in place at all sites, including in changing rooms, at poolside, into the pool and exiting the pool and building where appropriate.

Leisure centre staff are also being trained on Covid-19 safety measures and procedures so they are able to support customers when they need it.

Shropshire Council has signed up to the Fit Together campaign based on the government’s guidelines for reopening, which were supported by fitness trade body UKActive and approved by independent scientific advisors.

Mr Davis added : We’re thrilled to be reopening leisure centres after five months of enforced closure.

"Staff have worked incredibly hard to put measures in place to create a safe environment for people to come and exercise.

“The top priority remains to keep everyone safe, and to that end the government guidelines presented some challenges. Our staff have worked tirelessly to put the appropriate measures in place to ensure customers can use our facilities safely.

“Our leisure facilities have been closed for a long time, so we’re really excited to be able to safely reopen them. I’d like to thank everyone for their patience; we can’t wait to welcome people back.”

Leisure centres managed by Shropshire Council and by private sector partners have been closed since March due to the coronavirus lockdown imposed by the government.

Rory Smith

By Rory Smith
Reporter - @rorysmith_star

Senior reporter based at the Shropshire Star's head office in Ketley, Telford.

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