Users of some leisure centres in Bedford are being faced with “dirty” facilities, a meeting heard.
Bedford Borough Council’s portfolio holder for leisure and culture, councillor Doug McMurdo, was asked to comment on reports of unclean leisure facilities in the borough at the Full Council meeting on 1 December.
Cllr Graeme Coombes (Conservative, Wilshamstead Ward) said that he is again receiving reports of dirty facilities at Fusion managed sites – in particular the swimming pools.
Fusion currently manages Robinson Pool and Leisure Centre, Kempston Pool, Oasis Leisure Pool, Bedford International Athletic Stadium and the John Bunyan Sports and Fitness Centre. They also look after Mowsbury Park Golf Complex and Kempston Outdoor Centre.
Read: Council continues to defend Fusion contract despite ongoing calls for change
He said: “[There is] poor cleanliness in toilets and poor cleanliness in changing rooms, as well with all of the issues that we’ve had.
“We have many questions and conversations about Fusion over recent months and years.
“It seems unacceptable to me, particularly when we’re in the midst of Covid,” he said.
“Good hygiene, hand washing and cleanliness of facilities and making sure that they’re clean are extremely important.
“So would you like to comment?”
Cllr Doug McMurdo (Independent, Sharnbrook Ward) replied: “I am aware of some issues that have been raised directly with me and not through this channel in respect of Oasis, and that has been raised with the officers.
“Only this morning [Wednesday] they were doing site visits to address that and I will be updated tomorrow [Thursday] on their findings.
“But I would urge you, and indeed any member colleagues, not to leave it to Full Council but bring it to my attention at the earliest point in order that we can address it.
“Poor cleanliness, tidiness, is not something that we want to tolerate,” he said.
Cllr Coombes said he is happy to raise these issues outside of Full Council.
He added: “The ones I refer to specifically are the pools, and I don’t think it’s something that can be brushed away.
“If we can’t do something as basic as just cleaning rooms and toilet facilities and things like that, what are Fusion doing?
“You say that you are going down to see them, would it not make more sense to do unannounced visits,” he asked.
Cllr McMurdo said: “Might I just remind you that we are actually talking about people and individuals actually providing and doing this cleaning.
“I don’t think this is the right forum to be having such a debate, so I will welcome you to talk to me about the specifics and we will address them in the right and proper fashion.”
He added that officers do carry out unannounced inspections, but the one carried out on Wednesday morning was “not in anticipation of this discussion”
“I will get back to you in a very timely fashion.
“Because from what you’re describing that is contractually unacceptable in the current environment, wholly unacceptable and I will see personally that that is remedied,” he said.
Read: Exclusive: Bedford Mayor breaks silence over Fusion funding
Cllr Coombes said he hadn’t expected this to be an antagonistic question and was merely raising an important issue.
“I do disagree with you, I think this is exactly the right forum to raise this issue. This is a council and we’re discussing public business and council facilities.
“So we’ll have to agree to disagree on that because for me this is exactly the right place to be raising these issues, but I thank you for your answer,” he said.
A spokesperson for Fusion Lifestyle said: “Fusion Lifestyle take cleanliness concerns seriously. We have robust cleaning and hygiene practices in place in line with UK Active guidance cleaning protocols for Covid-19.
“We have recently invested in new cleaning machinery to ensure hygiene standards within our changing rooms are maintained.
“Our cleaning regime is supplemented with regular deep cleaning schedules and, in addition to this cleaning stations and hand sanitisation stations are positioned at activity entry points throughout the centres.
“Fusion Lifestyle is committed to ensuring cleaning standards are adhered to on a daily basis to both minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission and to ensure our customers find a friendly, safe environment at all our centres.”
by John Guinn Local Democracy Reporter
and Bedford Independent’s Paul Hutchinson