The news that Swindon’s iconic Oasis Leisure Centre will not open after the second lockdown is a huge blow to the town and generations of little kids, big kids, budding swimmers, gym enthusiasts, concert goers and boxing lovers who have made it such a go-to destination for decades.
Local councillors say it is "devastating" and "desperately disappointing" that the Oasis is closing.
Swindon Borough Council was sent an email by the centre's operator GLL telling them it would not open after 3 December, when lockdown is lifted.
It said a review of the centre's operation with landlord Seven Capital had concluded that it was "not viable".
Council Leader David Renard said he was "very sad" while Lib Dem leader Stan Pajak described it as a "leisure crisis".
In the email, GLL said the "enforced closures" and the centre's "reduced operating capacity when open" had led to operations being reviewed. "This review has concluded that the continued operation of the centre is not viable," it said.
"Both parties are therefore finalising an agreement that will see GLL surrender its lease back to Seven Capital."
It said the centre is "losing money" and needs "capital investment" and it was not in a position to continue running it "while accruing significant rent liabilities".
"Closing leisure facilities and reducing staff numbers is not a decision we take lightly," it said. "It is with great regret that we have come to this point, but we believe it is the only option available to us."
Mr Renard, borough council leader, said it was "really disappointing news for the staff" but the council is "continuing to work with Seven Capital".
"I am very sad GLL has taken the decision to surrender its lease, but Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on leisure providers," he said.
But South Swindon MP Robert Buckland echoes the view of many when he says he won’t accept the closure lying down. “The Oasis is a very important local amenity for us all here in Swindon. I have already spoken to the owners of the site, Severn Capital, and urged them to work closely with Swindon Borough Council to find a way forward that will allow the Oasis to reopen and for improvements to be made to a much loved local amenity.”
“I will carry on working to try and achieve a positive outcome for all of us who know and love the Oasis.”
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