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No need to book and more swimmers allowed in pool as council starts to ease Covid restrictions

There will be no need to pre-book the main pool at South Lake Leisure Centre from Tuesday, August 17.

More swimmers will also be allowed in the pool at any one time, as part of a pilot scheme to gradually reintroduce normal services post-Covid.

A second phase of the pilot is planned for gym and class availability, depending on how successful the swimming pilot is.

Customer feedback is also being addressed, as due to the large volume of enquiries coming into the centre – over 10,800 inbound calls averaging 336 a day in July – the phone lines have been very busy, causing frustration for customers.

The centre has now introduced additional support to enable customers to cancel classes more efficiently, freeing up spaces for other users to book and make enquiries.

The leisure complex has recorded an average of 66,500 visitors during the months of June and July alone but has experienced a number of teething problems.

Councillor Keith Haughian, chair of the leisure services committee, said: “People may have questioned council’s decision to open South Lake Leisure Centre last year due to the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and public health restrictions, but it has been a phenomenal success for the region at an exceptionally challenging time for the leisure industry.

“The amenities at the centre have brought a new energy to the area, with visitors coming from far and wide. I have no doubt that this success is a direct result of the effective management and promotion of the centre, with officers continuing to prioritise the safety of customers and staff and the user experience, particularly as restrictions eased.”

Sinn Féin Councillor Catherine Nelson has welcomed the moves to deal with the current issues.

She said: “I want to first commend staff and management of the centre who are going to huge lengths to cement the success of the centre.

“We met with senior council officers on Thursday night to outline the issues the public have reported to us. This included our booking system, capacity and some issues externally at the centre.

“We will monitor and review these changes and continue to make bold moves to ensure the success of the centre.”

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