£2m refit to ease complaints

The Dolphin leisure centre in Haywards Heath ENGSUS00120120322092422
The Dolphin leisure centre in Haywards Heath ENGSUS00120120322092422

Work has just begun on a £2 million refit to improve facilities and safety at leisure centres in Haywards Heath and Burgess Hill.

The Dolphin and Triangle will be treated to a refit which will include extended fitness suites with brand new gym equipment, state of the art group cycling studios and new reception areas.

At the Triangle Leisure Centre the fitness suite will be extended to create a spacious new gym area by the end of November 2014. New gym equipment will be installed.

Work is planned to be phased to allow customers to continue using the gym while the improvements are carried out.

The spa area will be upgraded with a new sauna and steam room. The reception area will be renovated and the existing sports shop will be closed and transformed into a new group cycling studio that uses ‘My Ride +’ technology.

In Haywards Heath, the fitness suite at the Dolphin will be completely refurbished and redecorated with brand new gym and free weight equipment throughout.

A new ‘My Ride +’ group cycling studio will be created.

Riders will face a High Definition forward motion video screen to give the user the feeling that they are riding on the open road.

A temporary gym will be set up during the works to ensure customers can continue to exercise.

Work is also underway at the Kings Leisure Centre at East Grinstead to, amongst other improvement, create a significantly extended fitness suite with brand new gym equipment. This will be completed by mid-September.

The centres are run by Places for People, which took over management from Freedom Leisure, in July.

Customers with a Places for People membership will be able to access the new facilities at all three leisure centres. More than £100,000 has been invested in safety technology that allows lifeguards to monitor the bottom of the pool using underwater cameras.

Councillor Pru Moore, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Sustainability at Mid Sussex District Council, said: “These plans look fantastic and I cannot wait to see the finished results.”

Steve Warriner, Places For People Area Manager, said: “These improvement works across the three leisure centres will deliver some exciting new facilities, as well as enhancing existing ones, and will help to achieve our goal of creating active places and healthy people!”

n Places for People has apologised to customers and admitted that its takeover of the centres has not gone ‘as smoothly as anticipated’.

Leisure centre members have made complaints about services at The Triangle and The Dolphin since Places for People took over management from Freedom Leisure on July 1.

After being informed about the high number of complaints, Steve Warriner, area manager for Places for People, has said: “I would like to offer my sincerest apologies to those that have been affected by the changes.

“The hand over has not gone as smoothly as we had anticipated.”

Customer Magnus Cohen said the lockers and lighting at both centres, were in poor condition.Mr Warriner said these were both going to be upgraded in the £2m refurbishment - see previous article.

Mr Warriner also gave his response to rumours that staff were working on zero hours contracts on a lower rate than previously.

He said there had been no cuts to staff pay and casual contracts have been offered to many employees due to the nature of the hours they work, just as was the case before the changeover.

He added: “This is common practice and was in operation before the handover. The recent handover has been a change for all of the staff and we are proud of the way they have coped with this additional pressure.”

Merle Burrows, 66, of Lucas Grange, which is directly next to the Dolphin Leisure Centre, said she could hear noise booming from the centre when events took place.

She said it was particularly bad when the fire doors were left open and air conditioning would remedy this problem.

Chris Markham, contract manager for Places for People in Mid Sussex, responded to her concerns.

He said staff will be reminded to monitor the doors and a manager will monitor the perimeter when events take place in the future.

He added: “The cost to install and run air conditioning in a space that size makes doing so prohibitive.”