Monday 22nd November 2010
By Charley Morgan, Swindon Advertiser
The announcement that the Oasis Leisure Centre could be sold off to a private developer by the cash-strapped Swindon Council was met with dismay by people using the centre.
The Adver reported on Saturday that the council had placed advertisements in trade magazines inviting developers to make expressions of interest in the site.
It said the centre, in North Star Avenue, is near the end of its operational life and it would cost too much to bring it up to standard. It wants to see the site turned into a regional leisure destination with an events arena, an indoor snow dome or an ice rink.
It is also offering developers the chance to get their hands on at least 5.6 hectares of land next door.
Mark, 32, and Kelly Shelford, 29, from Taw Hill, brought their four-and-a-half month old daughter Amelia swimming for the first time on Sunday. Mr Shelford said: “It would be a bit of a shame if it closed. It’s really child-friendly with a shallow pool for babies. If they managed to improve it I think it might be ok, but it’s a bit pricey as it is. So it would be a bit of a worry if it went private.”
Lisa, 42, and Darron Thevarajah, 41, from Bristol, brought their two sons swimming on Sunday. Mr Thevarajah said: “We come here from Bristol because it’s the closest place around with a wave machine and slides. It would be a shame if they got rid of the swimming pool. It costs £15 for four of us to go swimming now so it would be worrying if a private developer put the price up.”
Chris, 48, and Mary Pitt, 45, from Yate in South Gloucestershire, brought their 14-year-old daughter to the British Tae Kwon Do Championships on Sunday.
Mr Pitt said: “We used to come here quite a lot, especially when the kids were younger.
You can’t let the council sell it – it doesn’t make sense. There is an ice rink just down the road at the Link Centre and not so many people go skating as go swimming.”
And Roger Luton, from Yate, added: “The facilities are good but cost is the over-riding factor for most people. It was expensive for us to come here today but it has such good facilities like the wave machine and the slides. It would be a real loss but then that’s the trouble with councils – they have got to save so much money. But if it was privately run it would be all about profit.”
A spokesman for the council said last week that leisure was one of its key priorities and it was considering a number of options as to how its centres might be developed.