A few weeks ago, several customers took to Facebook to vent their frustrations at the way that the Energise leisure centre on Cornlands Road had been run since GLL took over last December.
While, in the main, users speak highly of the staff – several of whom have been there for some years – failures in telephones and computers systems were highlighted.
There was a lack of variety in the programme with the centre seemingly reverting to be a sport only venue.
It turned out that the Community Room had been blocked booked by one (Council funded) organisation for the whole of the working week (9:00am – 5:00pm), effectively excluding local older people who looked to the centre as an opportunity to socialise.
Some of the reasons for this strategy have become clear following a response to a recent Freedom of Information request.
It turns out that when the York Council decided to lease the centre to GLL they failed to include in the contract qualitative measures in respect of community activities .
In effect GLL must only meet admission number targets which are set at an annual increase of 1%. There are also some restrictions on the prices that can be charged to “walk up” customers and a minimum opening hours condition.
There is also a very comprehensive SLA in place which covers a range of safety and customer care measures. The Council promises that a performance report will be taken to the “Children’s, Education and Communities Scrutiny Committee” every 6 months (as with other external services: Explore, York Museums Trust, Make it York, etc).
Small wonder then that they are seeking to maximise the numbers passing through the entrance door.
However, Energise (now styled “Better”) was conceived as a Leisure centre and was intended to address the needs of all types of people living within walking distance of the facility. Hence the inclusion of a community room.
There is an expectation in the contract that the centre will work with other “partners”. However, so far, there seems to have been little effort made to integrate activities with those at the Acomb and Dringhouses libraries, with local community centres or residents associations.
Energise has, however, recently announced that they will be repeating the Family Triathlon event on 1st September. But that is also a sports orientated activity.
GLL have not had much time to develop a community engagement strategy although they have been recruiting new staff as they go through a “bedding in” period.
We hope that they will come up with a community focused programme shortly which recognises that the local neighbourhood – which includes many single person households – should be able to regard the centre as their leisure opportunity of choice, irrespective of whether that involves participation sport.
The Energise sports centre roof needs to be replaced according to Council officials.
There have been problems with leaks for some months. Temporary repairs have proved to be ineffective.
The centre is now being run by GLL on behalf of the Council.
The replacement roofing work will be undertaken later in the year. It is not expected that the centre will close while the work is undertaken.
The new Energise pool was opened in 2009.
What is the Swim 400 metres Family Challenge?
The aim of Swim 400m Family Challenge is to get families swimming on a regular basis and thus creating a healthy routine for all the family. Children can practise what they have learnt in their swimming lessons, and the parents can try and keep up.
What do we have to do?
Download the Free ‘Just Swim’ app created by the ASA Google Play or the Apple App Store. The app has two simple functions of goal setting and swim logging providing swimmers with the ability to track their progress on number of swims, distance covered, calories burned and time. Swim 400m is a pre-set goal within the app.
Do we have to time our 400m swim?
No, just doing a family activity of swimming 16 lengths is all that we ask. However, if you want to try and improve your timings there is a leader board on poolside, which may entice you a little. For all those that enter, there will be a Family Day Out prize available for one lucky family chosen at random from the board.
When are the sessions?
We are trying to get to encourage families to come to either Saturday or Sunday 3.30pm-5.30pm to create a bit of Parkrun feel. Or you can come any time to complete your 16 lengths.
How much is it?
The normal pool admissions apply and the Just Swim app is free.
What if I or my child can’t swim a full length?
This challenge is about fun and inclusion, if you or child cant swim in the deep end you can swim widths of the main pool or shallow pool (32 widths).
Can I swim the Swim 400 challenge on my own?
Yes, any time or at the either of the two sessions: Saturday or Sunday 3.30pm-5.30pm
Something new for pre school children at Energise
PlayGym sessions incorporate simple gymnastics style exercises for toddlers and young children. According to the organisers, “Research has shown that movement and exercise are both beneficial for children and and that having the opportunity to take part in organised sessions which are tailored to the child’s individual age and stage of development, can have positive benefits on their learning and development”