A pre-booking system for all activities will be introduced when Burntwood Leisure Centre opens.

Details of the plans for the reopening of the facility after the coronavirus closure emerged at a Lichfield District Council overview and scrutiny meeting tonight (16th July).

Burntwood Leisure Centre

The local authority’s head of operational services, Ben Percival, told councillors that systems would be in place to ensure the centre could cope with demand.

“What we are doing at Burntwood Leisure Centre is implementing a pre-booking system for all activities, including casual swimming.

“This means we can safely manage demand and access to make sure centre doesn’t become too crowded.

“In the event we are inundated, then everybody has fair chance to access the facilities as well.”

Ben Percival, Lichfield District Council

Mr Percival’s comments came after Cllr Brad Westwood, Labour representative for Boney Hay and Central ward, told the meeting he had concerns about demand on the town’s leisure centre.

A phased approach is being planned which would see Friary Grange Leisure Centre in Lichfield remain shut until October – meaning people from the city would need to travel to access leisure facilities.

A report to the meeting said the phased reopening would help to inform decisions about the reopening of the Lichfield site.

Cllr Westwood said:

“If we are asking people to come to Burntwood, it becomes a right mess if any confirmed cases of COVID-19 do crop up and we have to track and trace users throughout the district because everyone has gone to one place.

“It is a little concerning that we’re using Burntwood as a test phase. I would question the logic of basing Friary Grange opening on how Burntwood copes.

“The demographics are different. Statistics based on Burntwood won’t mirror Lichfield residents perfectly.

“We need to facilitate the needs of people in the city as well. It seems a very uneven approach opening one site on the west side of the district and nothing elsewhere.

Cllr Brad Westwood, Lichfield District Council

The council’s head of operation said the pre-booking system would have other benefits.

“It will also support track and trace so we have details of everyone who is using the facility.

“It is true to say Burntwood and Friary Grange do service slightly different demographics – in the absence of anything better the comparison is the best indication we have as to how demand will rebound and how behaviour may have changed locally.

“We’ve put in a place a rigorous monitoring and evaluation system with Freedom Leisure. We will have staff on site most days and formal review meetings on an operational basis at least once a week to make sure everything is going according to plan.”

Ben Percival, Lichfield District Council

Ross

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.