Concerns over the long-term future of one of Fife’s main swimming pools and leisure centres have resurfaced after its planned reopening was delayed.
Fife Sports and Leisure Trust had already been criticised for leaving Burntisland’s Beacon Leisure Centre until last in its reopening programme, following suggestions earlier this year the facility had been earmarked for closure.
Now trust chiefs have said the Beacon will not open fully on Monday, October 26, as planned due to the “significant challenges” presented by the centre’s layout in relation to meeting social distancing requirements.
The Beacon’s synthetic turf pitches will be made available to locals as scheduled.
Emma Walker, chief executive of Fife Sports and Leisure Trust, said: “Following thorough risk assessments of all trust facilities, the Beacon has presented a number of challenges in relation to ensuring we meet the necessary Covid regulations to keep staff and customers safe.
“So far, we have risk assessed each trust facility on its own merits against the current Scottish Government operational criteria and that of other lead bodies, to ensure the risk of spread of Covid-19 is kept to an absolute minimum. Unfortunately, the structural layout of the Beacon Leisure Centre does not readily lend itself to achieving these controls.
“The design is such that physical distancing, without additional modifications, cannot be achieved at a suitable and sufficient level throughout the facility. We have also identified a number of challenges with regards the air ventilation system and pool water levels so that they meet new Covid specifications.
“We’d like to reassure customers that we are working hard to resolve these issues and will be posting updates on our website and social media channels.”
Eight of the region’s leisure centres have already opened with Covid-19 measures in place, and the trust is due to open the doors to Duloch Leisure Centre in Dunfermline, Cupar Leisure Centre, Bowhill Swimming Pool in Cardenden, and Waterstone Crook Leisure Centre in Newport-on-Tay on Monday.
Campaigners fought to retain the Beacon earlier this year amid suggestions it could close due to cost-cutting measures.
Labour Kirkcaldy councillor Neil Crooks quit the trust’s board in January after revealing his belief there was an “active mandate” to close the Beacon, while Conservative councillor Kathleen Leslie has also criticised the delay in reopening.
“The longer it remains closed the more revenue is lost and the more likely people are to look elsewhere for their gym and swim,” she added.
“That benefits nobody.”
Councillor Judy Hamilton, convener of Fife Council’s community and housing services committee, said: “We have worked with FSLT and encouraged them to open the synthetic turf pitch and allow outdoor activities to be booked and organised.
“However, we are very disappointed that the rules being applied still do not allow for indoor use.
“We support FSLT to continue to work towards solutions to phased opening of some other areas pending any change to government advice on restrictions.
“We will monitor the situation closely.”
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