Councillor slams lack of response from Fusion over Southend centres reopening

UNCERTAINTY around when six of Southend’s seven leisure centre will re-open has seen serious concerns raised about the “disappointing” Fusion Lifestyle.

Southend Leisure and Tennis Centre, in Garon Park, will re-open today, but councillor Matt Dent has slammed the firm for a lack of information on other centres.

Mr Dent said a lack of communication from Fusion has left people in the dark as to when sites would re-open – including Belfairs Swim Centre and Shoebury Leisure Centre

He said: “Fusion will be re-opening Southend Leisure and Tennis Centre after financial support from the council.

“However as yet they have not announced any plans to reopen facilities at Chase, Belfairs and Shoebury.

“I have been very disappointed throughout the crisis. Their communication has been, to put it mildly, substandard, with customers, staff and with the council.

“I don’t consider it acceptable to open only the facility at Garon Park.

“I understand residents’ frustration with the situation, and I share it myself. I do think that the problems are with Fusion nationally, rather than local staff and management.”

Mr Dent said the issue has raised “serious questions” about Fusion which he will be pushing the council on.

Southend Council announced in August it would inject £600,000 funding to Fusion to help the centre in Garon Park re-open.

Kevin Robinson, councillor responsible for business, culture and tourism, said the pandemic had been “extremely difficult” for leisure operators and that the council funds will also see partial reopening of the Shoebury centre and Chase Sports and Fitness in Prittlewell Chase.

He added: “I am taking on board the concerns raised by councillor Dent and am discussing these with officers and cabinet colleagues.”

Fusion Lifestyle was contacted for comment.

A COUNCILLOR has raised concerns about a “disappointing” leisure firm running Southend’s facilities as they reopen.

Kursaal ward councillor Matt Dent said residents have had little communication with Fusion Lifestyle since the UK went into lockdown.

The firm runs seven leisure facilities across the Southend borough including Southend Leisure and Tennis Centre in Garons Park, Belfairs Swim Centre and Shoebury Leisure Centre.

Mr Dent said a lack of communication from Fusion has left people in the dark on when six of these facilities will reopen.

He said: “Fusion will be re-opening Southend Leisure and Tennis Centre this week, after financial support from the council to the end of the financial year.

“However as yet they have not announced any plans to reopen facilities at Chase, Belfairs and Shoebury.

“I have been very disappointed throughout the crisis. Their communication has been, to put it mildly, substandard, with customers, staff and with the council.

“I don’t consider it acceptable to open only the facility at Garons, and I am grateful to Kevin Robinson for his efforts in working towards the reopening of the other locations.

“I understand resident frustration with the situation, and I share it myself. I do think that the problems are with Fusion nationally, rather than the local staff and management.”

Mr Dent said the issue has raised “serious questions” about Fusion which he will be pushing the council on.

Southend Council announced in August it would inject £600,000 funding to Fusion to help keep the centre in Garons Park open for the rest of the year.

Kevin Robinson, councillor responsible for business, culture and tourism, said the pandemic had been “extremely difficult” for leisure operators and that the council funds will also see partial reopening of the Shoebury centre and Chase Sports and Fitness in Prittlewell Chase.

He added: “I am taking on board the concerns raised by Cllr Dent and am discussing these with officers and cabinet colleagues.”

Fusion Lifestyle were contacted for comment.

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