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The Open at St Andrews: Fears thousands of visitors will be left high and dry by swimming pool opening hours cuts

East Sands Leisure Centre in St Andrews.
East Sands Leisure Centre in St Andrews.

Campaigners have called for an urgent extension to opening hours at St Andrews swimming pool as the town prepares for an influx of visitors for The Open.

Queues of families built up outside the centre during the Easter holidays as youngsters tried to take advantage of a free swim offer from Fife Sports and Leisure Trust.

And many missed out as available places were quickly filled.

Gina Logan led a protest at Cupar Sports Centre. Picture Mhairi Edwards/DCT Media.

Swimmers in Cupar face an identical problem, with both pools open just 65 hours a week.

This compares to 90 hours at the other eight centres in Fife.

Those campaigning to increase availability fear even more children will face problems in the summer holidays, which begin on Friday.

And the 300,000 visitors expected to descend on the area for the golf in a few days may also face disappointment.

Former swimming instructor Gina Logan, who was sacked after organising a protest against the Cupar Sports Centre hours, said she was very angry.

“St Andrews will be filled with tourists, many of them in caravan sites just half a mile from the town’s swimming pool,” she said.

“Yet they’ll be told, sorry, you can’t get access because we’re closed.”

Open visitors ‘could be turned away’ from swimming

Gina is chairwoman of Cupar Community Council, where members are angry that local children are being “short-changed”.

“We’re keeping up the fight,” she said.

“It’s about inequality. We pay the same taxes as everyone else in Fife so why should we put up with reduced hours?”

The campaign is backed by north-east Fife Liberal Democrat councillors.

St Andrews Open swimming pools cuts will bite
A protest at Cupar Sports Centre in February. Picture Mhairi Edwards/DCT Media.

They have held meetings with Fife Council and the trust in a bid to secure increased opening.

The council’s Lib Dem leader Jonny Tepp said: “We are calling on the trust and the council to act urgently to extend opening hours.

“People in north-east Fife have been disadvantaged for too long with less opportunity to enjoy leisure facilities, and swimming pools in particular, than people elsewhere in Fife.

“The logic for the reduced opening times has led to a vicious cycle.

“And I’m glad the trust has recognised this needs to change.

“In order to create a sustainable service local people need access times which fit around their lives.”

And Cupar councillor Margaret Kennedy warned: “Unless opening times are extended we could see some people being turned away because there simply isn’t enough capacity.”

Council and trust ‘still recovering from Covid challenges’

Fife Council said it would take a while to recover fully from the challenges of Covid.

However, head of communities and neighbourhoods Paul Vaughan said the council and the trust was working together on the issue.

“We’ve provided support of several million pounds to support the trusts, helping cover costs due to reduced income,” he said.

We understand the trust is reviewing opening hours,”

Paul Vaughan, Fife Council.

“Fife is one of the first areas to fully reopen all its leisure centres and welcome people back. However, it will take time to fully recover.

“We understand the trust is reviewing opening hours across Fife with the aim of returning to pre-pandemic operating hours as soon as it is practical to do so.”

Meanwhile, the GoFife website includes a list of family-friendly activities to try over the summer.

In addition to the splash-out-for-nowt swimming offer, families can take advantage of free racquet sports and football.

For full details visit www.fifeleisure.org.uk or go.fife.scot

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