Published: Friday, 26 June 2020

Oxford City Council and Fusion Lifestyle, who manage the Council’s leisure centres, held a quarterly Leisure Partnership Board meeting today with representatives from user groups.

Reopening leisure centres was top of the agenda. Leisure centres remain closed in line with Government guidance. The meeting was an opportunity for the Council and Fusion to update user groups on the planning work to reopen leisure centres and the challenges that brings, and to listen to the groups on issues and suggestions for their sport’s needs.

“While we wait for government guidance on re-opening leisure centres safely we are working with our partner, Fusion Lifestyle, on the safety and financial challenges of reopening. At this stage it is clear that there will be reduced revenue for leisure centres, as there will be for many businesses, and we have to balance the benefit to the public with the affordability of re-opening. Together we are looking at options for a phased return of leisure centre provision. We are working with Fusion and user groups, including Oxford Swim Club and Oxford City Stars, who face particular issues in finding alternative venues for their sports in the city. When they are permitted to open we do not expect all activities at all facilities to resume straight away.

“This crisis has had a huge financial impact on the sector, and industry projections are that footfall, and therefore income, will be down 40-80% for leisure centres in the first year. This is due to social distancing, customer confidence levels and new exercise habits from lockdown. We are working with Fusion to look at the specific situation across the council’s leisure centres, and how we can support Fusion in their re-opening plans. We know our leisure facilities are really important for the health and wellbeing of our residents, we want them open again as soon as safe and viable. In the meantime our outdoor gyms, which will be opening from 4 July, and our green spaces, exercise trails and tennis courts provide excellent spaces for fitness and wellbeing.”

Councillor Linda Smith, Cabinet Member for Leisure and Parks

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