Leisure facilities across the borough are set to reopen on a phased basis following further relaxing of the government’s COVID-19 restrictions.
Under plans confirmed this week, Ealing Council is providing financial support to its leisure operator to allow Acton, Northolt and Dormers Wells leisure centres, Southall Sports Centre and Brent Valley Golf Course gym to welcome back local people from Friday 31 July 2020.
From 31 July, gyms and group exercise will reopen at Northolt and Acton Leisure Centres. Gyms will also reopen at Dormers Wells, Southall and Brent Valley centres. Swimming pools will reopen for lane swimming from Wednesday 5 August and swim lessons from the 22 August.
The use of other facilities at these centres, including sports halls, will follow once the appropriate measures are in place. All use will have to comply with the relevant National Governing Body of Sport policies and guidelines agreed with the government.
Every effort is being made to ensure that the facilities are maintained to high standards of hygiene and safety and anyone planning a visit should be aware that there will be a number of new arrangements in place to aid social distancing. It is essential that anyone visiting a leisure centre visits the Everyone Active website beforehand to familiarise themselves with the new rules and book their place beforehand.
Brent Valley and Perivale Golf Courses are already open with new booking and usage guidelines in place and the majority of outdoor sports pitches will also be available for limited use in the coming weeks.
As a result of the current financial position and government operating restrictions associated with social distancing, Elthorne Sports Centre, Greenford Sports Centre, Perivale Park Athletics Track, Reynolds Sports Centre, Swift Road Outdoor Sports Centre and Twyford Sports Centre will not reopen until the second phase, in line with government and sport’s governing body guidance.
The timescales for reopening these facilities will be considered by the council at its September cabinet meeting, with information to follow to all users soon after a decision has been made.
The council will work with the leisure operator and other partners to look at options for customers at these sites to relocate to alternative facilities during the closure period.
Councillor Bassam Mahfouz, cabinet member for finance and leisure said: “It is vital that residents have the opportunity to exercise and stay active and I encourage local people to use the borough’s excellent facilities safely and responsibly when they reopen.
“Ealing’s facilities will comply with government and public health guidelines to ensure the safety of customers and staff. But everyone can play their part by washing their hands, sticking to social distancing and following the new rules in our leisure centres.
“COVID-19 has had an unprecedented societal and financial impact in the sport and leisure sector across the country and Ealing is no different.
“The restrictions put in place over lockdown means that it has been almost impossible for leisure centres to generate any sort of income, whilst significant running costs have still had to be met.
“This poses a huge financial challenge to both the council and its leisure operators. We have worked to ensure that we have provided financial support to our centres to allow them to reopen and provide residents with vital services to help them stay healthy and active.
“Even as we face an unprecedented financial challenge set by COVID-19 we will continue to work to provide support wherever we can to allow our leisure centres to reopen and see residents welcomed back once again.”
Gurnell Leisure Centre to remain closed ahead of major redevelopment
Gurnell Leisure Centre will not reopen to the public again ahead of a major redevelopment which is set to provide brand new leisure facilities, including a 10 lane 50m pool, new leisure pool, gym, soft play facilities, a sauna, a steam room and a café.
The council will work with the leisure operator and other partners to look at options for customers to relocate to alternative facilities during the closure period.
The project will also deliver almost 600 desperately needed homes, helping the council towards its target of creating 2,500 genuinely affordable new homes by April 2022.
Cllr Mahfouz added: “We have made the difficult decision not to reopen Gurnell at a time when the council’s finances are under huge pressure, with ten years of cuts to our government grant and a multi-million-pound hole in its budget because of the pandemic.
“Already 39 years into its 30-year lifespan and approaching closure for an ambitious redevelopment project, we have decided that a return to subsidising the cost of running the centre does not provide value for money for council-tax payers.
“There are a range of excellent facilities available to residents close by and we will continue to look at ways of supporting visitors to Gurnell to get regular access to them.”
This, like all council cabinet decisions is subject to a call-in.