A councillor says confusion over the planned reopening of Friary Grange Leisure Centre has made Lichfield District Council look “disorganised, uninformed and out of touch”.

Friary Grange Leisure Centre

Confirmation came last night that only the swimming pool would initially open on Saturday (24th October), with dance studios and gym facilities not returning to use until 2nd November.

But the confirmation came after Cllr Joanne Grange had been reassured by Cllr Richard Cox, cabinet member for leisure, that “all services will be going ahead” on the reopening date.

The independent member said the revelation of a partial reopening was “astonishing”.

Joanne Grange

“I asked in full council on 13th October for an update on the plans for re-opening Friary Grange Leisure Centre given the advertised target date of 24th October was fast approaching and little information had been shared with councillors.

“Cllr Cox assured me that there was no change to the opening date and all services would be going ahead.

“To hear, less than a week later, that this isn’t in fact the case, is astonishing. 

“What has changed in the six days since I asked the question? Why was this information not available for full council to debate? Why was this information only provided after I queried why there were no gym sessions or classes available to book on the website?”

Cllr Joanne Grange, Lichfield District Council

The local authority said the delayed reopening of some facilities came about because repair work needed to take place in an area shared by The Friary School.

Meanwhile swimmers will also have little over a month to enjoy the pool before it closes again until January to allow roof repairs to take place.

Cllr Grange said questions needed to be asked of the way the reopening had been planned.

“While I appreciate that managing a COVID-safe environment at the same time that refurbishment works are going ahead is difficult, we’ve just had a six month enforced closure which would have been perfect timing for the works that prevent access to users of the centre.  

“This whole episode makes us as a council look disorganised, uninformed and out of touch and I sincerely hope the full picture of availability has now emerged and we will not have further surprises.”

Cllr Joanne Grange, Lichfield District Council

Cllr Richard Cox, cabinet member responsible for leisure, said parts of the centre would be open as soon as possible.

Cllr Richard Cox

“The impact of COVID-19 required a review of plans around all our leisure facilities which I reported in full to the leisure, parks and waste management overview and scrutiny committee in July and updated in September.

“We were able to confirm our position in August for the re-opening of Friary Grange at the end of October.

“Work proceeded immediately with the final award of the repairs contract to allow work to start on site which happened earlier this month.

“We are re-opening Friary Grange facilities as soon as we’re able.

“The studio and gym are opening a week later than the pool to allow the access corridor to be decorated during half-term to minimise inconvenience to the school and avoid unnecessary crossover between school pupils and contractors.” 

Cllr Richard Cox, Lichfield District Council

Ross

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.

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