Newry Leisure Centre (NLC) members are being left “incredibly frustrated” at being unable to gain access to its facilities, councillors have been told.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council (NMDDC) was due to begin essential maintenance works at its city swimming pool last year, but the plans were shelved following an angry reaction by councillors who were not notified of the planned Christmas closure.
However, other facilities in the leisure centre including the gym, health suite and soft play areas have also been subject to closures with the council previously citing staffing issues.
Newry SDLP representative Doire Finn said in chamber this week: “So many people have been in contact with me about the facilities that are currently operating within the leisure centre.
“One example is a gentleman who got in touch with me because for six Saturdays in a row, he hasn’t been able to book a slot.
“He is a member of the leisure centre and I think we need to be looking at this in a very serious way.
“For one, the people need to be informed of what is happening and also that we are looking after people who are paying membership fees, because we know how important that is.”
Cllr Finn added: “There is an issue of actual space in the pool with the number of lanes being used for private swimming lessons versus the number of lanes available for other people and the capacity in the pool to actually house all the people who want to swim.
“I think it is really important that we are informing people in Newry who are using the facilities and aren’t necessarily happy with what they are paying for, particularly when members aren’t able to use services for six weeks in a row.
“It’s incredibly frustrating and people are going to choose to go elsewhere if this continues.”
NMDDC’s website continues to pledge a refund to members since its leisure centres were affected during the Covid pandemic.
It states: “We want to reassure all our members that they will be given any appropriate discounts or extensions to their membership if impacted by COVID-19 restrictions and the closure of some of our leisure facilities.”
At council, on Monday night, CEO Marie Ward replied: “I couldn’t give an update on this specific matter raised in relation to a person unable to use the facility for six weeks.
“What I will ask is for a report to be brought back to the active and healthy communities committee this month (Dec 18) dealing with the leisure centre and any of the issues being experienced there.”